The Singapore Group 1 Patron’s Bowl over 1600m fell to a strongly finishing Ato who backed up his Krisflyer Sprint victory with a step up in trip.
The second leg of 4-year-old challenge looked like a straight match-up between the winner of international Group 1 Krisflyer Sprint winner, Ato and the winner of the 1st leg of the Singapore 4-year-old challenge, the Singapore Group 2 Stewards’ Cup, Gingerbread Man. The two could not have been more of a contrast to each other in the parade ring with Ato walking around like a pugilist and Gingerbread Man almost sleepy in his calmness.
Ato gets past Nandowra and Gingerbread Man, picture Singapore Turf Club
Out of the gates however, Gingerbread Man with Bosson on board let it be known that he was here to do business and jumped best of all, getting to the lead before Nandowra crept up on his inside to take over the running. Ato with Barend Vorster on top was tucked in behind the leaders.
As the field straightened up for home, Nandowra was tackled by Gingerbread Man and the two, for an instant, put on a couple of lengths between themselves and Ato who had been switched to the centre of the track for a run.
Inside the last 200m, as Nandowra and Gingerbread Man began to feel the pain of their early efforts, Vorster had got Ato balanced and made his run at them. A run, that had been timed to perfection as Ato got up on the post by neck to deny Nandowra who was second, less than one length ahead of Gingerbread Man.
The connections were exuberant and assistant trainer, Ricardo Le Grange put this victory in perspective.
“I always believed that he would stay 1600m. He was third in the Guineas last year and now he’s a year older and much stronger. He is still maturing and is likely to find more,” he said.
“During the last 400m, I was looking for him to get the opening; then get up to the leaders; and finally get past them,” he said when asked about his thoughts while watching the race.
Patrick Shaw said after the race, “Obviously I thought he’s get the mile. I was only a bit worried about his fitness as I had given him seven days off after the Krisflyer Sprint.”
“I could have run him in the 1400m Stewards’ Cup which would have suited him as well but it just came too soon and I had to go into directly into this race and I think I could have had him a lot fitter,” he continued.
Looking back at his progress, Shaw said, “I only had him for three months last year before the Guineas and was still learning about him. Regarding the Derby, I think I could get him a lot fitter. He settled well and I’ll have a chat with Barend. But, he will be entered.”
Vorster gave Ato a copy book ride and was equally elated.
“He’s the type of horse that has proven that he has the ability. After the Krisflyer Sprint, he’s gone up 400m and won,” he said.
“I am really proud of him, proud to be associated with and he’s really flourished. I’m excited that he’s just coming into his own now,” ended Vorster.
Whether Ato targets the Singapore Group 1, Emirates Singapore Derby on the 15th of July remains to be seen. He is by the champion race horse and sire Royal Academy who won the Breeders’ Cup Mile in New York in 1990. Despite the fact that Royal Academy is a son of Nijinsky, as a sire, he infuses his progeny with speed. The fact however is that Ato settles well and it may just be tempting enough to toss the pedigree study out of the window if he starts in the 2000m Emirates Singapore Derby.