Ace up Kok’s sleeve

Trainer David Kok is hopeful one among his three-pronged attack can get up in the $70,000 Class 3 race (1400m) at Kranji on Saturday.

The Singaporean conditioner will saddle Real Effecto, Smart Star and Sabah Ace in the highlight race, but thought the youngest of the trio, the four-year-old Sabah Ace, will be the pick of the bunch.

A winner of four races in nine starts, Sabah Ace placed in a Class 3 race (1200m) at his last start on 3 February and he also won previously over this trip and level after beating January in a thriller in July last year.

Sabah Ace (No 9) seen here at his last win on 23 July, picture Singapore Turf Club

The New Zealand gelding only had one crack over 1400m where he finished fifth to Dream Alliance in a Class 3 race on 27 August last year, but Kok believed the trip should be ideal for a horse that he rates very highly.

“He has a big engine and is very progressive,” said Kok of the son of Swiss Ace.

“I was a little disappointed he drew wide (barrier 12), but (jockey) Amirul (Ismadi) will ride him quietly and hopefully, we can get a sit off a good early pace.

“He (Sabah Ace) has won previously in Class 3 when he came from off the pace and over seven furlongs (this time), that might be the best way to ride him.

“It will be a good education, regardless, as we will set him up for the (Group 3) Silver Bowl over this trip (1400m) and then the (Group 2) Stewards’ Cup (1600m).

“We will assess a run in the (Group 1) Singapore Derby (1800m) after those races.”

Opened to four-year-olds, the Silver Bowl will be run on 9 June, the Stewards’ Cup on 30 June and the Singapore Derby will be held on 21 July.

Kok thought the 1400m trip was also ideal for the much-improved Smart Star, albeit for different reasons.

“He overraces badly, so he should appreciate the drop back from the mile,” he said of the five-year-old son of Star Witness.

“We are trying to teach him how to settle and the early pace expected over 1400m should help.

“I’ve put a three-kilo claimer (apprentice jockey Rozlan Nazam) on and he (Smart Star) should be strong late as he is definitely a stayer.

“Long-term, we are targeting the (Group 1) Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) on October (5) with him. He needs to get his rating up, but he would be a good lightweight (runner) in a race like that.”

Of Real Effecto, who finished down the field in last year’s Singapore Gold Cup won by Lim’s Kosciuszko, Kok reckoned any stake money that comes his way will be a bonus.

“He needs further,” he said of the Real Impact six-year-old, who will be ridden by jockey Benny Woodworth.

“But if he can pick up a cheque for connections (owned by Kok himself), it would be great (laughs).”

Apart from his Class 3 trio, Kok has nine other runners on Saturday and he was optimistic of a good meeting for his connections.

“I have runners for most of my big owners,” he continued.

“You always need luck but we have a strong hand and hopefully, we can get a winner or two.

“The (Royal) Sabah Turf Club (RSTC Stable) have Sabah Ace and also Win Win (in the $50,000 Class 4 race over 1100m). Those two horses have winning chances.

“The City Gold Stable have two maidens in Citygold Lightning (in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1400m) and City Gold Thunder (in the $20,000 Maiden race over 1200m). Citygold Lightning placed at his last start, so hopefully he can break through.

“The Pacific Stable also have two runners (Pacific Spirit in the $30,000 Class 5 Division 2 race over 1700m and Pacific Dream in the $20,000 Maiden race over 1200m) with me while Mr Lim Chong Sam (of Smart Bet Stable) also has Smart Era (in the $30,000 Class 5 Division 1 race over 1700m).

“They are all good owners and it would be great if we all can enjoy a winning day.”