Prolific Polytrack performer Surpass Natural bounced back to his best after putting a handy bunch to the sword in the $85,000 Class 2 race over 1100m at Kranji on Sunday.
Always in touch with the early fliers, Surpass Natural was full of running when set alight by Juan Paul van der Merwe into the home straight, despite plotting a wide path throughout.
Elite Power (Ruan Maia) and Aramaayo (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) motored home late, but the bird had already flown.
Surpass Natural (Juan Paul van der Merwe) outsprints his rivals to come out tops in the Class 2 race, picture Singapore Turf Club
The Elvstroem four-year-old, who had van der Merwe up for the second time, had one length to spare from Elite Power and another short head to Aramaayo in third. The winning time was 1min 4.33secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack.
After that successful outcome at his first stab at Class 2 level, his record now stands at six wins from nine starts, with the first five scored one after another last year, all with John Powell up. Except for the one win recorded on turf at his second outing in a Class 4 race over 1200m on July 5, 2019, Surpass Natural’s blitz was achieved on the Polytrack.
After such a smashing form return, Dragon could afford to aim high again, even if Surpass Natural’s winning streak of 2019 was snapped after three cracks at Group level.
Unplaced in the Group 3 New Year Cup (1200m) and Group 3 Fortune Bowl (1400m), he fared better in the Group 3 Silver Bowl (1400m) in February when in contention for a podium finish, but was run down late to settle for fourth place.
Dragon is not averse to the idea of having another throw at the stumps in feature races, but will this time resist any temptation of stepping his charge out of his comfort zone.
“Like his name suggests, I think I will stick to what he is natural at - speed,” said Dragon.
“I must say we may have found some answers to him. His first trial was disappointing, and my track rider TR (Thavarajan) Barnabas told me he might need a tongue-tie.
“After not racing for quite a while, he just got a bit lazy. That sharpened him up at his second trial and TR really woke him up, too.
“Today, JP (van der Merwe) rode him really well. I was actually telling someone that this horse gets along with both big and small JP!
“Before the race, I told JP to jump out and use his natural speed to settle second or third.
“He’s the sort who goes better with the early pace in the race. I saw how the speed was playing out better on the outside in the earlier races, and I told JP to come off the fence if necessary.
“The problem is there aren’t many Polytrack 1200m races for him. Progressively, I’d like him to go to Class 1, but I may also take a look at the Merlion Trophy for him.”
The Group 2 Merlion Trophy (1200m) on Poytrack is due on August 23.
Van der Merwe said he was glad he made amends on a horse he knew was far better than what he showed him in the New Year Cup.
“I rode this horse last time in the New Year Cup, and I didn’t know him too well then,” said the South African lightweight jockey.
“There weren’t too many excuses for him, I thought. I know he won five in a row for Johnny Powell, but then they tried him on the grass in stronger Group races.
“Today’s race was a much better race for him. He was three or four wide, but all day, it’s been better being out there than on the rails.
“He was always travelling well and when I let him go, he finished off well. The owner became fond of me after I won twice on Strong N Powerful this year, so it’s good I won on Surpass Natural as well today.”
That sixth win has now edged Surpass Natural’s stakes earnings past the $175,000 mark for the Sky Eye Stable.