Baertschiger plots best Kranji Mile path available for Incredible

Singapore Horse of the Year I’m Incredible makes his long overdue comeback on the first day of racing resumption at Kranji on July 11.

Unseen since his unplaced run in the Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) on November 10, the Lope De Vega five-year-old was gearing up for his return on April 3, but a minor mishap put that off to April 17.

Trainer Shane Baertschiger then saw the slight delay as a blessing in disguise for the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m) winner. The race on April 3 was a 1200m sprint on Polytrack, a surface I’m Incredible resents, but the rescheduled race two weeks later was on his preferred turf track over 1400m.

Matthew Kellady will ride I'm Incredible at his racing comeback on July 11
(file photos of I'm Incredible taken on March 10, before the Circuit Breaker).

Unfortunately, that meeting never took place. COVID-19 struck, and the Circuit Breaker brought the season to a screeching halt from April 7.

From a layoff of five months, I’m Incredible’s holiday was stretched by another three months, not an ideal scenario to any horse owner, even if for the Doha Stable, their little champion had been a handy moneyspinner to them with more than $670,000 banked in in only 11 starts.

When news came through two weeks ago that competition would resume on July 11, Baertschiger knew he could have I’m Incredible ready, but finding a race for the six-time winner felt like déjà vu.

“He doesn’t handle the Poly. He had two runs and failed on both occasions,” said the Australian trainer.

“I was hoping for a 1400m race on the second day on July 26, as it would then slot in nicely for the Kranji Mile, which is his main target, three weeks between races.

“But there was none, and I had no other choice but to run him in the Polytrack race on the first day back. He will then run in a Class 1 race over 1400m in three weeks on August 2, which gives him only two weeks to the Kranji Mile.”

The silver lining is the fact that the stop-and-start interruption of I’m Incredible’s prep during the lockdown has not really been a major setback.

“He’s all right. He is not a big gross type of horse that needs a lot of work to get fit,” said Baertschiger, who currently sits in ninth place on the log on nine winners, 13 behind the leader, Michael Clements.

“Once we knew racing will start again, I stepped up on his work. He will trial this Thursday, and that should be just nice.”

Formerly meant to be held on May 23 as an International Group 3 race for the first time, the Kranji Mile will now be run as a domestic Group 1 race open to locally-trained horses only on August 16, as part of a raft of cancellation and rescheduling of feature races brought about by the pandemic.

For the Class 1 race on July 11, Baertschiger has entered a second runner in Star Of Jupiter who, on the other hand, will be better suited by the trip. The one-time winner by I Am Invincible is, however, 13 points lower in rating.

“Star Of Jupiter is also not very big at only 490kgs. He didn’t need much work to come back to his best; he, too, will trial on Thursday,” he said.

“He should have won at his last two starts. The first time, he missed the start and at his last start, he was caught four wide and still ran a close second to Skywalk.

“We’re aiming him at the Lion City Cup.”

With I’m Incredible handicapped at 54kgs, regular partner Vlad Duric will not be able to take the ride. It’s Matthew Kellady who will fill in while Star Of Jupiter at the minimum weight of 50kgs will be ridden by his last-time partner, apprentice jockey Shafrizal Saleh.