Michael Lee 10/01/2017
Exciting prospect Skywalk will get his Singapore Three-Year-Old campaign underway with a first 2017 outing in the $80,000 Open Benchmark 74 race over 1200m on Friday.
The China Horse Club-owned Battle Paint three-year-old was a latecomer in last year’s two-year-old series. After an impressive winning debut in an 1100m race on Polytrack, he backed up a week later - an erring that his trainer James Peters did later admit in hindsight - in the Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) on turf but ran accordingly, soundly beaten by Lim’s Racer.
He ran a lot better in the Group 3 Juvenile Championship (1200m) when given more time between runs three weeks later, running on for second to Mystic Master.
Peters then gave him a break during which he furnished into a stronger individual. He ran twice, missing out by a whisker first-up but was right on target at his next run in a Novice race over 1200m, defeating the handy Nova Missile.
The Englishman is happy with the gelding’s condition and fitness going into Friday’s race after the Christmas break, though a recent trial with blinkers on did not yield the result he was expecting.
“The plan was to sharpen him up a little when he trialled with the blinkers on last week, but it didn’t quite work out,” said Peters of his trial on January 5 when he ran second to Shane Baertschiger’s newcomer Montaigne.
“We won’t be using it this Friday. He’s pulled up good after his last run during the Gold Cup weekend, and had a short break over the last couple of weeks and he’s come along fine.
Peters is making a surprise booking for the steering duties: Singapore champion apprentice jockey Wong Chin Chuen.
Peters seldom uses David Hill’s apprentice jockey, with the pair having actually never combined for a win before, but Skywalk may well change all that, even if Alwin Tan’s impressive last-start winner Shadow Of War will be a tough opponent.
“He’s got 53.5kgs on his back and there aren’t many lightweight jockeys around. CC Wong can and I’m sure he will give him a good ride,” said Peters.
Regardless of his run, Skywalk will then be charted towards the three Legs of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge.
“Obviously the 3YO series has always been meant to be his main target this year. He will have a couple of runs before the 3YO series kicks off, and that would be the plan with him,” he said.
“He can go further. I will definitely set him for all three Legs.”