Lady goes higher class

A jump of two classes may feel like a daunting task to Ararat Lady this Saturday at Kranji, especially first-up from a six-month spell, but trainer Tim Fitzsimmons said it wouldn’t ‘shock’ him if the speedy mare still rose to the challenge.

The Australian reported that the five-time winner (mostly over Polytrack sprints) by Battle Paint has returned in great order after she was sidelined by some leg problems last prep.

The six-year-old last raced in July when dropping in grade to a Class 4 race over 1100m on Polytrack. After a run of outs stretching to almost one year, the AJ’s Stable-owned sprinter duly bounced back to the winner’s circle in brilliant style to record her first win under Fitzsimmons’ polish (all previous four wins were during her time with Cliff Brown, Fitzsimmons’ former boss), but her fetlocks didn’t cop the race as well.

Ararat Lady has no weight on her back when she contests the Class 2 race over 1100m this Saturday, picture Singapore Turf Club

An impressive 5 ¼-length barrier trial win in a smart 58.8 seconds without being fully tested last Tuesday does suggest those woes are now behind her, even if this Saturday’s $85,000 Class 2 race over 1100m as the race of choice for picking up where she left off is still a huge gamble.

Fitzsimmons admitted he would have rather picked something easier, or at least on par, for the resuming mare, but with no low-hanging fruit around, he went two branches up.

Opponents such as Makkem Lad and Celavi make for a different proposition from the likes of the Al Green or Super Smart she last accounted for, but Fitzsimmons is not ruling out some cheek.

“Ararat Lady had a setback shortly after her last run. She had some leg issues that required three months’ rest where she did no work,” said Fitzsimmons.

“She needed another three months to come back good. Her last trial was very good, she opened up as she needed a more serious trial ahead of her comeback

“It’s still a hard task first-up in Class 2, but there was nothing in Class 3 over 1000m or 1100m – not until March when there are a couple of such Class 3 races for her - and there was only that option this Saturday.

“She’ll run against some seasoned horses, but she’ll carry a light weight (50kgs) and will have CC (Chin Chuen) Wong riding her.

“It won’t be easy, but she’s going so well, that it wouldn’t shock me if she won.”

Neither would punters going on the Victorian’s healthy strike rate of 27.27%, the highest among the 23 trainers operating at Kranji, this season.

Fitzsimmons currently sits on top of the pile on six winners, only handing up the lead to Stephen Gray on an inferior countback for seconds. It’s a healthy momentum that has been gathering steam since last season when he finished fourth on 33 winners at his second full season since branching out on his own in 2019.

“I’ve had a great start to the year, and long may it continue, but I’ll need to keep getting good support,” he said.

“Hopefully, new owners come on board. I have existing owners who want to support me with more horses, like AJ who currently has only Ararat Lady with me, but he’s looking at buying another one.”