Chairman's Trophy beckons for Maximus

The Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) is firmly set in Maximus’s sights after he put his rivals to the sword in the $100,000 Kranji Stakes B race over 1600m on Sunday.

Having tentatively picked the $500,000 feature race as a first test at the elite level for the US-bred five-year-old by Belmont Stakes (2400m) winner Lemon Drop Kid, trainer Alwin Tan wanted to wait for the outcome of Sunday’s race before casting anything in stone.

Following the compelling win from one of his most progressive wards this campaign, the 2016 Singapore champion trainer confirmed he would be adding a third contender to his already preselected duo of Infantry and Nova Strike to the Chairman’s Trophy, a race which was until last year a 1800m race run in September. 

No stopping Maximus (Troy See) in his tracks on Sunday, picture Singapore Turf Club

“He’s more of a Polytrack horse, but he ran second to Black Swan once on turf. Besides, it’s hard to find a Group race on Polytrack race for him,” said Tan.

“In fact, I had already discussed with the owner (IB Racing Stable) that we might run him in the Chairman’s Trophy. This horse has surprised me a lot as he started out as a sprinter, but he runs more like a stayer now.

“I gave him a good chance today, but I was also worried about the weight.”

Both Tan and Maximus’s usual rider Troy See had in pre-race talks expressed some doubts over the 58.5 kilo impost, and to a lesser degree, the widest alley in the small nine-horse field, but the bold chestnut made light of those concerns with a formidable galloping performance that spoke volumes about how far he had come.

Half the battle was won when he landed in front without much hassle. One of the best beginners, Maximus ($14) was never put out of his comfort zone as he slid forward to ease into his customary position ahead of the other speedy customer in the race, Lim’s Shot (Simon Kok Wei Hoong), who had drawn the inside.

Maximus towed the field into the backstraight, but without the luxury of the running rails with Lim’s Shot kicking up on the inside.

See did not seem to mind the close attention, just allowing Maximus to stride along on the bridle, until the point of the turn when he decided it was time to split.

In a matter of a few strides, the race was all over bar the shouting. Maximus easily shook off Lim’s Shot before bounding away to a massive lead, which only the fast-finishing $13 favourite Yulong Xiong Hu (Benny Woodworth) was able to cut back to three lengths while Kirks Ryker (Barend Vorster) was another 3 ¼ lengths away in third place. The winning time was 1min 39.37secs for the 1600m on the Polytrack.

“I was worried about the big weight, but from the way he ran today, he didn’t look like he was carrying 58.5kgs,” said See.

“I really thought he’d be in trouble today because the other horse (Lim’s Shot) didn’t want me to get a soft lead at the 800m.

“He got away last time, but this time, they were smarter. They (Lim’s Shot and Kings Ryker) were all over the place and I thought that would soften him up, but he just kept lengthening up.

“Credit to Alwin and his team as they have really taken this horse to another level. I’ll leave it to Alwin to decide which race he wants to run him in, but I would just love to stick around as his rider.”

The sixth win in 12 starts has now snowballed Maximus’s stakes earnings past the $280,000 mark for the IB Racing Stable. 

Besides being aimed at the Chairman’s Trophy on April 27, Maximus has also been nominated with Infantry and Nova Strike for the $1.5 million Invitational Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) on May 26.