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Bragging rights up for grabs in KSA sprint

Trainer Steven Burridge is confident Ghalib can continue his rapid rise through the sprinting ranks in Singapore and win the $100,000 Kranji Stakes A race (1200m) on Sunday.

The highlight race at the 10-race meeting has only six runners but will be a fascinating affair with the second highest-rated horse in Singapore, Golden Monkey (105), also in the field.

Ghalib, a winner of seven from 12 starts in Singapore, saw a five-point rise in his ratings to 102 after beating Golden Monkey in a similar race over 1400m on 16 June.

If the four-year-old son of I Am Invincible is victorious again on Sunday, another jump in the ratings could see him move up the pecking order, with potentially only Lim’s Kosciuszko in rare air (120) above him.


Lion City Cup hopeful Ghalib (Manoel Nunes) drops back to the six furlongs this Sunday, picture Singapore Turf Club

While horse racing could make fools out of wise men and women, Sunday’s clash between Ghalib and Golden Monkey does look a two-horse affair. In this match race of sorts, the winner will take home not just the better part of the $100,000 prizemoney on offer, but also the bragging rights heading into the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) on 28 July.

That was a point not lost on Burridge, who will also saddle Asif in Sunday’s sprint race as Ghalib eyes a shot at the last Lion City Cup to be run at Kranji.

“Looks like that,” said the experienced Australian conditioner about a two-horse battle.

“I thought (jockey) Manoel (Nunes) took the initiative last start over 1400m but he (Ghalib) won very well. He’s a sprinter, so the drop back to 1200m will not be a problem for us.

“Golden Monkey is a very good horse and the one we have to beat again by the looks, but we still get one-and-a-half kilos on him (58kgs vs Golden Monkey’s 59.5kgs) and I couldn’t be happier with how he (Ghalib) is going.

“I’m glad this race is on as it gives us a perfect three-week gap between runs. He’s a big gross horse so racing is good for him as it saves us from working him too hard.

“He’s (Ghalib) no superstar like Lim’s Kosciuszko but it would be nice to have him in winning form going into the Lion City Cup. He’s come a long way this year.”

Nunes, who has been legged up at all his seven wins from nine rides in Singapore, thought a maturing Ghalib is reaching his peak.

“I thought a lot of this horse after he won for me on debut here,” said the five-time Singapore champion jockey.

“I’m not sure he was one hundred percent fit that day so I said ‘wow, nice horse’, but he had a few issues with his barrier manners so he did well to win as much as he did.

“And as you can see now, he’s getting much better as he matures. He’s improved after the stable change too. I think he won at both starts (13 August and 16 September 2023) for (ex-Kranji trainer) Michael (Clements) but he seemed to enjoy a change of environment.

“I do a lot of trackwork on him and Steven has him fit and happy. I think he’s going as good as he can be.”

Meanwhile, Nunes believes Ghalib must beat Golden Monkey on Sunday to be a serious contender in the Lion City Cup.

“I said to (owner) Mansoor (Gandhi), if we want to be competitive in the Lion City Cup, we have to win this weekend as we still get one-and-a-half kilos off Golden Monkey and he’s (Golden Monkey) the next best (after Lim’s Kosciuszko)," he said.

“While we beat him last start (over 1400m on the Short Course), I think he (Golden Monkey) will be more suited to the Long Course this Sunday, so we will have to be on our game.

“But 1200m will be in our favour as he (Ghalib) is a sprinter. While it is a small field again, we still have options as he doesn’t have to lead.

“Things can change quickly, but I think Sky Eye will probably lead on Sunday and from barrier one, we can take a sit.

“I will play by ear early like we did at his last start. I also think Golden Monkey will be a little closer to me in the running, so I have to be aware of that too.

“My horse is straightforward, which makes my job easier. Hopefully, we can win again on Sunday.”
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