New battle plans for Macarthur

Michael Lee

English trainer James Peters has decided to drop Macarthur back to sprints in the wake of his sound defeat at his first test over 1400m at his last run, but is not ruling out a return to such trips in the future.

The Charge Forward three-year-old capitalised on his inside gate to rail through and lead in an Open Benchmark 74 race over seven furlongs on January 20, but even-money favourite Aramco whipped around to come eyeballing him shortly after.

With a bunched-up group of horses sitting and waiting right behind, it looked almost like a foregone conclusion which way Macarthur’s first venture over more ground would end up. 

Macarthur seen here winning the fourth Leg of the 2YO Singapore Golden Horseshoe series under Vlad Duric.

Macarthur seen here winning the fourth Leg of the 2YO Singapore Golden Horseshoe series under Vlad Duric.

Ridden by A’Isisuhairi Kasim, Macarthur held the fort as best as he could against Aramco’s unrelenting pressure. The valiant galloper was still in front at the 300m, but he then felt the pinch, and it was soon curtains.

On face value, more was probably expected from the former one-Leg winner of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series than a fading sixth, four and a half lengths off the winner Ode To Joy. At his previous two runs for Peters, the former US-owned and Steven Burridge-trained galloper lived up to his juvenile promise with a thumping win followed by a second place, both over 1200m on turf.

However, Peters did a postmortem on Macarthur’s last race and was prepared to forget he ran.

“It’s probably better to run him over shorter distances at this stage. I’m not saying he can’t get 1400m, but we need to do more work with him before he gets there,” said Peters.

“He was also taken on the whole way, and it was not ideal for his first run over seven furlongs. He’s pulled up fine, though.

“He’s coming back from 1400m only after two weeks. He’s still pretty fit and I’ve just kept him fresh.

“That could be the key to him, keep him nice and fresh with some easy work and get him back in trip. Hopefully, he runs a better race on Sunday.”

Peters has entered the now Royalty Racing Stable-owned galloper in Sunday’s last race, the $60,000 Class 4 Division 2 race over 1100m on Polytrack. Carrying the top weight of 57.5kgs, Macarthur will be ridden by Michael Rodd for the first time.

Meanwhile, another three-year-old of Peters’ but with much less racing experience under the belt, Siam Gemstone will garner some interest in the second race on that day, the $75,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1400m.

The son of Darci Brahma has had just two runs, including a closing second to Countofmontecristo second-up in a 1200m race for Restricted Maidens on January 13.

“It took a little while for him to come to hand, but I’m happy with both his starts,” said Peters.

“At his first run over 1200m on turf, he settled miles back and finished off quite well. He then went over 1200m on Polytrack and improved further with a second.

“He looked like he was crying out for more ground. The 1400m should suit him and I think he will get even more ground later.”

Raced by Thai outfit Pupetch Racing Stable, Siam Gemstone will again have his last-start partner Vlad Duric in the irons and will compete in a small eight-race field in which the main threats seem to be One Kinabalu, Funkadelic and Optimum Star.