Any fears the distance would be too sharp for Gran Torino first-up proved totally unfounded following the way he flogged his rivals in the $80,000 Class 3 race over 1000m on Sunday.
Trainer James Peters had all along been happy with the way the two-time Kranji winner (1100m and 1200m) had come through his three-month break in readiness for his 2018 campaign, but if there was to be one doubt, it was how the Bel Esprit four-year-old would cope with such a mad scamper at his comeback race.
The Englishman needed not have worried. Gran Torino ($14) was in the best seat from barrier one, taking a drop behind likely pacesetters Lim’s Sincere (Ryan Curatolo) and Crazy Dreams (Iskandar Rosman), and was just raring to go at the top of the straight.
Gran Torino (Craig Grylls) makes light work of his rivals on Sunday, picture Singapore Turf Club
At no time did the Paul Crawford-owned gelding look like the pace was too hot for him to handle. On the contrary, he was just coasting, with jockey Craig Grylls – filling in for the injured Olivier Placais – probably chuckling to himself how easy this was all shaping up.
The last 300m was almost a foregone conclusion as far as racing scripts went: Gran Torino firing on all cylinders and roaring away to the finishing line.
Once Grylls gave a few shakes of the reins, Gran Torino sling shot to the front in the blink of an eye, cruising away to a 2 ¾-length win from Himalaya Dragon (Wong Chin Chuen) with Silkino (Barend Vorster) third another head away.
Unconquered (Zawari Razali) flashed home late on the outside to just miss a podium spot by a nose, a head in front of Secret Mission (Koh Teck Huat). The winning time was 59.58 seconds for the 1000m on the Polytrack.
“I was very impressed with his run today. Last prep, he was winning on natural ability, but he has really come on from a break,” said Peters who was notching win No 7 for the year.
“I was concerned about the 1000m, especially with horses like Lim’s Sincere, but in the end it’s worked out perfect.
“I think he’s still raw, and to do what he did first-up, he’s got to be a pretty smart horse. I’ve got a lot of time for him.
“He’s won over 1200m last prep, so that’s not a concern. I’d like to try him over 1400m, but I’d like to hear what Craig has to say.”
Grylls had only words of praise to say as he dismounted at the winner’s stall.
“On paper, there would be a lot of pace in the race, and there was some concern it might be too sharp for him, but he was always travelling good,” said the New Zealand jockey.
“Once I got him off at the top of the straight, he kicked away and it was pretty easy in the end.”
With that third win, Gran Torino has now taken his stakes earnings past the $110,000 for Crawford.