The wraps were huge and there is every chance they will grow even bigger after Sweet Angeline destroyed a Class 4 field on debut on Friday night.
Known as Chia in Australia, the three-year-old filly by Rubick competed in lofty company in Sydney, with the standout benchmark her win over the Group 1 Doncaster Mile favourite Brandenburg at Randwick on Saturday.
No doubt it was in a Maiden race (1300m) for local trainer Brad Widdup at Hawkesbury almost one year ago (April 19, 2019), but so impressed were connections that they threw her in at the deep end in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) at her next start.
Ridden by old Kranji acquaintance Corey Brown, she ran out of the placings, but was not beaten all that far behind winner Castelvecchio, incidentally also the top pick in another Group 1 race at Randwick tomorrow, the Australian Derby (2400m).
iRace boss Steve Levar then bought her to continue her racing career at Kranji with trainer Ricardo Le Grange, renaming her after the younger of her two daughters.
If Sweet Angeline’s reputation preceded her, her sparkling barrier trials (two wins and one second) franked it, and went a long way in whetting racegoers’ appetite for her Kranji introduction.
That came in the $50,000 Class 4 race over 1200m on the Polytrack, and she was simply sensational despite not having things her way in the early stages of the race.
Jumping smartly from a wide alley, Sweet Angeline ($15) was caught in no man’s land three deep before champion jockey Vlad Duric pressed forward, but Good Luck Charm (Alysha Collett) kicked up on the rails, and still wouldn’t let her cross over.
After such a taxing run, she would be entitled to fade in the home straight, especially as she was first-up and presumably not fully screwed down, but when Duric clicked her up at the 400m, there was still plenty of petrol left in the tank as she went through her gears, leaving her rivals battling for the minors in her wake.
Second place went to Imperium (Shafrizal Saleh) three-and-one-quarter lengths away with Hero Star (Azhar Ismail) third another half-length away. The winning time was 1min 12.03secs for the 1200m on the Polytrack.
Le Grange was in awe at such a smashing debut, more so from a Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge perspective, but with the uncertain future of Singapore racing amid the deepening COVID-19 concerns, the South African handler preferred not to look beyond Friday’s breathtaking performance.
“She’s a lovely filly. We took our time with her and a big thank you goes to (assistant-trainer) Jacci (de Tert) for doing a lot of work on her,” said Le Grange.
“Thank you also to Steve and his new outfit, The Racing Club for purchasing such a lovely filly, such a quality stock with great overseas form.
“She was an absolute professional from Day 1. Whatever we asked her to do, she has done and has come through with flying colours.
“It was also a great ride from Vlad. He was positive on her and she won a very good race.”
The Australian ace, who was at a riding double having earlier saluted on another favourite, Yulong Edition (see earlier report), was impressed with Sweet Angeline’s gutsy display.
“She was mapped to being caught wide and that was how it played out,” he said.
“Michael (Rodd on My Everest) was outside the leader (Good Luck Charm) and he dropped anchor to sit off the speed. I bit the bullet and went forward.
“It was a very good win first-up on the Poly for a filly. She will improve by leaps and bounds from that first run.
“She could be a Guineas filly. Hopefully the Guineas are still on - if the races are back.”
The Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m) is the third Leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge and is scheduled on July 26.
In spite of all the doom and gloom, Duric for one is confident racing and ultimately, the world will bounce back from those extraordinary times, even if he is bracing himself for a long battle ahead before we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“It’s right across the board, but the racing people are a resilient bunch full of survivors. Hopefully the Club and its participants will stick together and help each other out during those times,” said the three-time Singapore champion jockey.
Levar was also caught in the sombre mood permeating the local racing fraternity with the imminent closure of racing in the wake of the announcement that workplaces would be off limits except for essential services from Tuesday.
But the former Singapore Turf Club race caller was glad the last meeting before the enforced holiday ended on a “sweet” note for not just him, but for the whole Levar family.
“We have always had a huge opinion of her and she will be at her best over 1400m and 1600m on turf,” he said.
“We actually had the whole family at home on the sofa, all watching and cheering her home.
“It was way past the bedtime of our youngest two children Louis and Angeline, but tonight, considering racing may stop for a while, we allowed them to stay up and watch her win.
“I’m glad we did now, it was a wonderful family moment.”
Levar also had his stable banner King Louis race earlier in the Class 2 race over the mile, but the Group 3 El Dorado Classic winner didn’t quite handle the Polytrack to run fifth to Yulong Edition.