Trainer Donna Logan is keeping her fingers crossed her second Singapore win could hail from either of her juvenile pair of Makkem Lad and Qiji Commander in the third Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series, the $90,000 IRT Juvenile Stakes Open 2YO (1200m) on Friday.
On one hand, the freshman Kranji trainer is hoping Makkem Lad can frank his debut second to Pennywise in the first Leg, the Kranji Nursery Stakes (1000m) on May 18 while first-timer Qiji Commander may represent the unknown quantity, but the son of Helmet has given a peek of enough ability on the training tracks, including a barrier trial win among others (June 5) to suggest he was not making up the numbers.
Makkem Lad, who has drawn wide in barrier No 14, will again be handled by Alysha Collett while the Chinese-owned Qiji Commander has drawn an alley and will have fellow Kiwi jockey Craig Grylls up. While Pennywise, the impressive victor at the first two Legs will not face the starter this time, the 14-horse field will still feature other promising two-year-olds like My Big Boss, Lim’s Lightning and Jupiter Dragon.
Logan, who has trained one winner thus far, Green Star on April 27, from only 10 runners since her debut in late April, sounded confident her two charges would make their presence felt.
“I’m very happy with both horses,” said the New Zealander who currently has 18 horses on her books.
“Makkem Lad put up a good effort on debut and has done well since. I don’t think the turf will be a worry for him.
“He galloped today and Monday and went really well. He’s really done good work since his last run. There is a spring in his step, he’s really bouncing around.
“There was a nice space between his runs and he is stepping up to a distance which will suit him. I just wished he had drawn a better barrier, though.”
Obviously, Makkem Lad also has an edge over his stablemate in terms of racing experience, but Logan is not underestimating her debutant raced by Mainland China owner Niu Fudong.
“Qiji Commander does not have the experience that Makkem Lad has, but barrier 1 will be a big advantage for him,” she said.
“He is by Helmet and will become a nice three-year-old. He will be looking for more ground, but he sure has shown ability in his work.
“Put it this way, Craig Grylls won’t be getting off him in a hurry.”
Grylls, who has been one of the main jockeys to help Logan since she relocated from Ruakaka to Kranji in February, certainly sounded like he had some time for Qiji Commander.
“I really like this horse a lot. I’ve done most of his work since he joined Donna in the first batch of horses,” said Grylls.
“I’ve done his fast work and jumpouts. He is a get-back type of horse and then gets home.
“But in all fairness, I think he’s more of a three-year-old. He’s, however, shown enough ability that might get him through.
“The turf track won’t be a problem for him. Hopefully, he goes well tomorrow.”