Strong N Best all of that over 1700m

A first venture beyond the mile paid instant dividends for Strong N Best at Kranji on Saturday.

After saluting only once in 10 previous Kranji starts, in a lowly Class 5 race over six furlongs back in March, the Rock ‘N’ Pop five-year-old had been pottering around in similar races without being able to replicate the same success.

Singaporean trainer Kuah Cheng Tee then revisited the mile (which provided mixed results before), adamant his future belonged over more ground.

Strong N Best (John Sundradas) comes from behind to score, picture Singapore Turf Club

Strong N Best nearly pulled it off on in Class 4 company on August 22, denied a short head by Real Efecto, but fell by the wayside in a similar mile event a fortnight later.

The gelding had excuses, though. He was caught wide early and had to work overtime to stay in touch, invariably getting tired at the business end.

Undaunted, Kuah kept at it with the long journeys by picking out Saturday’s $50,000 Class 4 race over 1700m, taking a punt with the extra 100m - and collecting instant cash at the end of it.

Well ridden by John Sundradas, Strong N Best certainly looked the part when he came with a withering run from midpack at the top of the straight. Under pressure, he did veer in to ever so slightly brush past Caribbean Lady (Saifudin Ismail), but trainer Hideyuki Takaoka’s mare was already beaten fair and square.

Strong N Best got a big kick on them from thereon in, skipping clear to greet the judge by one and a half lengths from a gallant Cheval Blanc (Marc Lerner) with Caribbean Lady fading into third place another gap of three and one quarter lengths away. The winning time was 1min 45.4secs for the 1700m on the Polytrack.

“He can stay, but unfortunately, there aren’t many races like that on Polytrack. I’ll see how he pulls up, but most probably, I’ll stick to 1600m-1700m Polytrack races for him,” said Kuah.

“Today, I told John to keep him in midfield and reserve him for the last 400m. He finished strongly, he gave a very good kick.”

Kuah said that his 12th winner for the campaign was obviously still a little green, but what really mattered was that he has come a long way from his ungenerous barrier manners early doors.

“A big thanks to the Singapore Turf Club starters Damien (Kinninmont) and (ex-starter) John Pepe. This horse used to give us a lot of problems at the barriers,” said Kuah.

“He’s a lot better now, he’s much more mature. He has settled down now.

“I replaced the winkers with blinkers, but to be honest, I’m not sure if that made any difference. If the blinkers worked today, I’ll stick to that, but they may not necessarily work next time.

“I’ve worked very hard with that horse. I also helped out at the barriers during his schooling, and that win will certainly please his China owner Yong Yong Stable.”

That second career win has now boosted Strong N Best’s prizemoney past the $80,000 mark for the China-based relative newcomer.