New middle-distance star Chase Me backed up on his dominant Singapore Derby win a fortnight ago to notch a second Group success when he captured the $300,000 Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1800m) on Sunday.
Trainer Desmond Koh took a bit of a gamble when he entered the New Zealand-bred by Storm Creek in the Weight-for-Age event two weeks after he had landed the Emirates-sponsored classic in sensational style on July 15, but it proved a well-calculated risk in the end, courtesy of yet another 10-out-of-10 ride from his Derby-winning partner Joao Moreira.
Even the racing pattern was almost a carbon copy of the Derby run – settle midfield on the outside and bide their time for the winning move. The only difference was Moreira launched his attack slightly later this time, and the more seasoned opponents also proved harder to knock off than his four-year-old peers.
Flying Fulton (Jose Verenzuela) who had led at a steady tempo from the start was still going great guns 300m out, but the all-yellow colours of Chase Me, who started as the $13 favourite, were looming large on the outside. While the Derby was all cut and dried from a long way home, Moreira had to summon all his strength and guile in the saddle this time, especially when Flying Fulton bumped into him as he laid out under pressure halfway up the straight.
Chase Me (Joao Moreira) and Flying Fulton (Jose Verenzuela) clear out from the chasing pack ober the closing stages of the Chairman's Trophy on Sunday. picture Singapore Turf Club
The Super Trio-owned galloper was finishing so strongly that he barely lost any steam as he kept racing away for an impressive two-length victory over a brave Flying Fulton. Evergreen Waikato (Greg Cheyne) ran third but more than four lengths away from Flying Fulton. The winning time was 1min 48.99secs on the Long Course.
Koh, who was so choked with emotion he could barely speak at the Derby post-race interviews, was this time a lot more composed, but understandably delighted with the back-to-back feature successes.
“I’m a lot better today. I have to say it was a test against the bigger boys and I was pleasantly surprised with the way he beat them,” said Koh.
“His Derby win was against four-year-olds, but today he proved he can be up there. I’m really impressed by the way he has improved in the last two months.
“There was a thought to give him a break after the Derby but he was doing so well that I decided to let him run in the Chairman’s Trophy.
“He will go for a long break now and I will then bring him back for the (Singapore) Triple Crown Series.”
The famed series consists of three Group 1 races, the Kranji Mile (October 7), the Raffles Cup (October 22) over 1800m and the Longines Singapore Gold Cup over 2200m (November 11).
When asked if Chase Me has given him any loftier ambitions under different skies, Koh preferred not to commit to any plans at this juncture.
“One step at a time,” he said with a smile.
Bringing up his 125th winner in yet another bumper year, Moreira was effusive of the way Chase Me has taken the next step to another level with a hitherto unsuspected touch of class.
“He’s proven today he is a horse with just so much potential. Even during the race, I could feel he was much better than in the Derby,” said the Brazilian ace who was at his second feature double as he had earlier taken out the Group 3 Magic Millions Juvenile Championship ( he pulled off a similar feat with Chase Me in the Derby and Super Easy in the Group 3 Paititi Gold Trophy on July 15).
“From the outside draw, he jumped very well and I was happy where he was. He was so much more relaxed that I was very confident he would give me a good response in the home straight – and he did.
“I knew he would pass the other horse (Flying Fulton) but I just didn’t know if we would be the winner at the winning post. In the end he was just too good for them.”
Moreira said the Singapore Gold Cup should be the next big target for the vastly-improved galloper who just a year ago was mired in Class 4 anonymity.
“I think he can go for the Gold Cup. Desmond has done a really good job with this horse and I think he deserves to have a crack at it,” he said.
With that seventh success, Chase Me has now joined the elite Millionaire Club with stakes earnings close to the $1.1 million mark.
Koh, who began training at Kranji in 2005 after honing his craft in America, was at only his fourth feature win in Singapore. After first winning the Group 3 Stewards’ Cup with Safety Outlet in 2006, Koh’s next Group success came with another Hydrocarbon Stable-owned galloper in Phenom in the Group 1 Patrons’ Bowl two years later.
He then went through three seasons without adding any silverware to his trophy cabinet until Chase Me came along in 2012.