Marsh happy Gingerbread Man "not last for a change"
29 May 2012 | Normally a barrier trial also-ran, Gingerbread Man had to be credited with an “improved run” after he ran a smack-up fourth in Heat 2 at Tuesday’s session, pleasing his trainer Bruce Marsh no end, five days ahead of his contest in the $300,000 Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1400m).
Last year’s Three-Year-Old Challenge Triple Crown champion more often than not finishes among the tail-enders in the Kranji hit-outs which are all run on a surface he dislikes – Polytrack - but the 10-time winner is a totally different proposition come raceday.
In that context, a berth just outside the placegetters was seen with a positive spin by his camp, though anything better might not be such a good thing. Marsh even joked once the now four-year-old colt by Shamardal would probably run a shocker in a race if he won a trial.
Kaiser (Soo Khoon Beng) speeds off to victory in a barrier trial on Tuesday while Gingebread Man (Opie Bosson) in shadow roll runs fourth (photos by Dominic Leong).
Ridden on Tuesday by his race-jockey Opie Bosson, who has yet to salute on him in five rides (four placings and one unplaced ride in Dubai), Gingerbread Man again could not score, but was this time probably at the receiving end of less kickback from the Polytrack after travelling wide throughout to finish only 1 ½ lengths off the winner Kaiser.
“It’s nice not to see him last for a change,” said Marsh with a smile. “But I was really happy with that run. He just did his own stuff out there and he still ran the last 200m in 12 seconds, which is pretty good.
“I told Opie to just take him for a stroll and let him gallop as he likes. That run will definitely bring him on for Sunday’s race.”
The Kiwi trainer had long earmarked the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, which kicks off with the first of its three Legs, the Stewards’ Cup this Sunday, for Gingerbread Man, including most notably, the last Leg on July 15, the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (2000m) a race he would be looking to win a third time after Hello And Goodbye (2005) and Race Ahead (2010).
But race-fitness somehow turned into a race against time when Gingerbread Man did not return without any side-effects from his failed Dubai trip, beating one home at his only race at Meydan on March 1.
When Marsh saw Gingerbread Man’s feet as he walked down from the float about two months ago, he knew he faced a daunting task to get him ready for the 4YO Challenge.
“His feet were shocking. I don’t know what caused it but they had just fallen away,” said Marsh.
“In hindsight, that Dubai trip was not good at all for him, but all credit should go to the farrier who has done a marvellous job to get him back on track.
“Still his fitness was not quite there, but I had to run him in that race two weeks ago. The race came quicker than we would have liked but we had to bring him on as soon as we could.”
Gingerbread Man made his Singapore comeback in a Kranji Stakes A race over 1200m on May 18, turning in a brave performance under the steadier of 59.5kg only to be run down late by stablemate Hammer Down, who was in receipt of nine kilos from him.
The set-weight condition of the Stewards’ Cup will square off that pull in weights to nought as all contenders, including Hammer Down himself as well as a third Marsh runner, Trudeau, will carry 57 kilos.
“I was very happy with Gingerbread Man’s first run. He did not quite have that last dash, but considering the weight he carried and was giving away weight, and the fact he’s also looking for further now, it was a very good effort,” said Marsh.
“Sunday’s race will still be one of his hardest tests but the barrier trial has definitely done him a world of good.”
Trudeau, a two-time winner (both over 1200m), also came out for a last blowout in a later barrier trial on Tuesday under race-jockey Shafiq Rusof, and unlike Gingerbread Man, bolted in by a margin – over seven lengths, but in moderate time (1min 3.14secs).
“It looks deceiving as he was pulling away in the last bit, but he was actually not going fast,” said Marsh.
“That is just what he needed too. It’s a big step-up in class, but he’s always run in good company up to a mile.
“At his very best, I am sure he will be very competitive on Sunday.”
Hammer Down, who will be ridden by his last-start winning partner Ivaldo Santana in the Stewards’ Cup, did not trial on Tuesday but Marsh could not fault the O’Reilly four-year-old’s condition either.
“It will be tougher for him on level weights, but he should be going right,” said Marsh.
“He will also strip fitter after his last win. He does not need a barrier trial and will work fast tomorrow.”