Moods can swing in the blink of an eye in racing – and so trainer Ricardo Le Grange found out first-hand ahead of this Friday’s $325,000 Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m).
The South African is saddling a four-pronged attack made up of two of the top picks, the Argentinian “twin terrors” of Kranji, Pure Prize progeny Pennywise and Streetwise and two maidens who won’t be too many pegs behind, having already given a peek of their potential outside the Singapore Golden Horseshoe proper – Gamely and Toosbies.
With two wins from two (first and second Leg), the undefeated Pennywise will probably be the quad-team skipper, a little ahead of fellow Bernard Kantor-owned Streetwise, who after a less auspicious introduction to racing (the hothead was scratched at the barriers in the first Leg), made good with a sterling win in the fourth Leg.
Pennywise (Nooresh Juglall) is one of three Ricardo Le Grange two-year-old's to have drawn awkwardly, picture Singapore Turf Club
The Thai-owned Gamely (x Golden Archer) has done nothing wrong in two outings in Restricted Maiden races, running third on both occasions while Toosbies (x Equiano) gave the promising Mr Hooper a run for his money to finish second at his only Kranji start.
Just like last year (Captain Jamie, Iffragal, Mokastar and Safeer with Captain Jamie finishing the best in eighth), Le Grange had geared up a squad of four runners in the Aushorse.
Except that this Friday, each go in with a live chance of giving the second-year trainer a first win in the juvenile feature (they were all in three figure odds last year) - but the barrier draws just threw cold water on those best-laid plans.
Pennywise (Nooresh Juglall), Gamely (Craig Grylls) and Toosbies (Michael Rodd) jump from gates 11, 13 and 15 respectively with only Streetwise (Barend Vorster) spared the wrath of the barrier Gods in six.
Le Grange was trying his best to take the nightmarish draws bar one in his stride.
“I was so happy with the way all four have been coming along, but the barrier draws have put a spoke in the wheel,” he said.
“It’s not ideal, it’s tough, especially for young horses to come from the outside. It’s difficult to comment because on their well-being, I couldn’t ask for more, they have all come through their trials and races really well.
“Now, three of them will need a bit of luck. Only Streetwise got a nice draw; he has enough pace to slot in a good position.”
The outside alleys may have cast a pall, but Le Grange was still hoping one of them can shine through.
“Pennywise has come back in good order after his six-week break. I was very happy with his last trial, which he won (July 5),” he said.
“He’s been working with smart older horses at home and he has held his own very well. Both him and Streetwise are lightly-raced two-year-olds and will be even smarter three-year-olds.
“It’s the case for all four, actually. The other two ran very encouraging races and will also hit their straps when they turn three, but they will still go into the race with a nice chance.”
Juglall, who partnered Pennywise to his two wins, had also been brimming with confidence, taking the race like he would be sitting atop the best horse in the race - until he saw the draw.
“I’ve not had much luck at the barriers in big races lately. This will make it tough for Pennywise,” said the Mauritian jockey who recently returned from a quick jaunt to the Vodacom Durban July meeting on Saturday with one winner (Infamous Fox) in the bag.
“His work is very good, but to me, he’s more of a racehorse. He’s very naughty in his trackwork; he just wants to drop the rider!
“But Ricardo has done a great job with him. He’s spot-on for Friday.”