Grand Cross made light work of his rivals in the $80,000 Community Stakes, a Class 3 race over 1200m on Sunday, and is shaping up as one of the many horses to watch from the James Peters yard next year.
A two-time winner back in Australia over sprint distances in country New South Wales, Grand Cross has really thrived since landing in Singapore for the China Horse Club, knocking on the door from Day 1 before opening his account with an impressive three-length win in a 1100m race a month ago.
The potential was clearly there, but Peters felt there was still scope for improvement given his propensity to over race.
But from the way he ran relaxed, just sitting on the bridle, quietly biding his time off a sizzling pace set by tearaway leader Southern Boss (Benny Woodworth) on Sunday, before going through his gears to race away to a 1 ½-length win from Run It Twice (Syafiq Hazman), Peters could start mapping out better races next year.
“It’s not easy for a horse to do what he did here at his first prep. Not many horses can start off from Class 4 and go up to Class 3 in only a few runs,” said the English trainer.
“We knew there would be speed in the race and he was able to get a nice sit behind. It’s worked out perfectly.
“Shafiq rode a sensible race on him, waited for the right moment to launch him.
“He will get a month off now and will come back next year. He’s got a lot of speed but he has learned to settle better now, and I will probably build him up to 1400m.”
Shafiq, who has developed a close affinity with Grand Cross, said he was chuckling to himself when his mount was just humming along as Southern Boss burned up the track upfront.
“This horse has a lot of ability, and he’s really improved now that his mind has settled better,” said Shafiq, who one year ago captured the biggest thrill of his life aboard Cooptado in the Singapore Gold Cup, in which he has no rides this year.
“When I did the handicap, I knew Southern Boss would go fast, and the pace suited him just nice.
“The leader dragged me into the straight but I was still holding him up until the 350m to let him go. In the last 200m, he was very strong to the line and just kept going.”
Grand Cross has now brought his record to two wins and three placings from seven starts for stakes earnings close to the $130,000 mark for the China Horse Club.