Same double-feature attack for Preditor

Shane Baertschiger’s Jumbo Jet Trophy winner Preditor took his first step towards a third Kranji Mile-Singapore Gold Cup trail with a first 2020 barrier trial on Tuesday morning.

Ridden by Vlad Duric, the son of Savabeel settled close to the speed before being eased out into fourth place around 2 ½ lengths off the winner Constant Justice (Michael Rodd). Stablemate Blue Swede (Matthew Kellady) ran last, but only another 1 ¾ lengths away.

Going with Baertschiger’s blueprint to Preditor’s two previous Kranji Mile-Gold Cup campaigns, Tuesday’s first hit-out was a harbinger of a racing return since his fifth place to Pennywise in the Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes (1600m) in December.

Hong Kong whiz kid Matthew Poon gets Preditor home in a driving finish in the
Group 3 Jumbo Jet (1400m) in 2018, picture Singapore Turf Club

“Preditor will run first-up in a Kranji Stakes A race over 1400m on Derby Day (April 18),” said the Australian handler.

“Second-up, he will go for the Kranji Mile. We’ll see how he goes, and then, hopefully the Gold Cup will be his next target at the end of the year.”

The revamped Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) is at its third edition and will for the first time be staged as an International Group 3 event on May 23.  Preditor ran in both the 2018 and 2019 versions when held as an Invitational race, finishing unplaced to Hong Kong’s Southern Legend on both occasions.

The Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) is the last Leg of the Singapore Triple Crown series and will be run on November 7. In two participations (2018 and 2019), Preditor finished among the also-rans.

While such lacklustre performances might not inspire a third crack at the two showpieces, Baertschiger thought the gelding stood nothing to lose, but everything to gain.

“I’m happy with his condition and his trial this morning. He’s come back in good shape during the spell and he’ll have one more trial,” he said.

“He’s lightly-raced considering he’s at his fifth season and has raced only 32 times (for five wins, the highlight being no doubt the 2018 Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy under Hong Kong’s Matthew Poon). He’d already raced in New Zealand (as Predator) before he came here.

“He’s a rising eight, but he’s sound as a bell. We’ll just see how he goes.”

As for old stager Blue Swede, the expectations are not at the same level given his advanced age. Just like Preditor, the quirky galloper with the big finish has also been following a training programme template, but with only one target in the crosshairs, the Singapore Gold Cup – but that was then.

Owned by Baertschiger, the son of O’Reilly had had four shots at the time-honoured race, with his first attempt in 2016 when a rattling third to Bahana the most laudable. Even though his form tapered off in the last two renewals, the unpredictable stayer always carried that “dark horse” tag, just in case his turn of foot of old awakens.

But Baertschiger has all but ruled out any return to the highest level for the eight-time winner and stakes earner of close to $700,000 this year.

“Good old Blue Swede is going to be 10 soon. A fifth Gold Cup would surprise me,” he said.

“There is no set plan for him. He’s all good, we just have to perk him up and keep him ‘alive’.”