Birthday Gift faces stiff task at first Group race
12 Jul 2012 | Birthday Gift’s meteoric rise through the Kranji sprinting ranks will be justly rewarded with a first berth in a Group race this Sunday.
After a thumping five-length winning debut in a modest Restricted Maiden race last July, the Black Minnaloushe four-year-old had to settle for third at his next two starts, but then literally exploded onto the scene with a four-in-a-row that has propelled his ratings from 57 to 77 points.
While his trainer Leslie Khoo had cleverly been able to get him well in at the weights in his races – all run on Polytrack - the last win in a Kranji Stakes C race over 1200m on June 22 was registered with 57.5kgs on his back.
Birthday Gift has risen from humble Maiden company to Group level in double-quick time.
“I really didn’t rate him very highly when I just got him but he he’s really surprised me every time I give him a run - and now he’s won his last four races after a spell,” said the Singaporean mentor.
“I was able to keep him at low handicaps which helped him, but his last win proved he can carry a bit of weight too. It was a very impressive win.
“I thought he then deserved a shot at a Group race and the (Group 3) Paititi Gold Trophy (1200m) seemed like the ideal race.
“The only thing is it will be his first time over turf. I think he should be able to handle it.”
Khoo is however aware it is not just the underfoot surface which can be a stumbling block.
“Super Easy is the horse to beat, but I am more worried about Captain Obvious,” said Khoo.
“On ratings, he is the highest-rated horse in the field and it will be hard to get past him. Even Super Easy will find it hard to beat him.
“My horse is probably just a Class 3 horse at this stage but he has only 50kgs on his back. It will be his biggest test so far, but if he can run a place, I’ll be happy.”
Khoo has also entered Northern Lion in the Paititi Gold Trophy and has booked the services of Mohd Zaki on the former 1000m record holder.
“It’ll be hard for him. He’s more of a Polytrack horse as well,” said Khoo.
“His last run was not too bad (third to Captain Obvious) and as he is receiving lots of weight again, I hope he can run a good race.”
Khoo, who finished runner-up in the trainer’s title championship last year, is enjoying another bumper year, but has yet to notch his first Group success in Singapore. Previous runners like Art Of Speed, Lamborghini Flame and Won’t Stop have tried but have all come up short, with Won’t Stop’s second place in the Group 3 Three Rings Trophy (1400m) last February being his best result.
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