Shock debut winner Deadline Day beat one home in a barrier trial on Thursday, but connections including his winning partner Olivier Placais were still happy with the run.
The French rider explained that the half-brother of former Singapore champion juvenile Onceuponatime was a lot sharper than expected at his Kranji debut on February 19 in a Restricted Maiden race over 1200m which himself, trainer James Peters as well as most pundits thought would be way too short first-up.
But the Rip Van Winkle three-year-old took them by surprise with his early toe out of the machines. Placais was able to give him a breather midrace and when he popped the question, there was still plenty of juice left.
The $269 payout was just as juicy, but don’t expect such generous odds at his next run in a Novice race, again over 1200m, on Sunday week, even if Placais remained guarded about a repeat feat.
“He jumped just as quickly this morning, but I got him to settle in fourth or fifth as planned,” said Placais.
“The intention was to teach him to relax better in his races, and not burn up the track flat out, like he did at his debut. He did that quite well once I guided him around to tuck in behind horses.
“In the straight, I didn’t squeeze him, just let him jog to the line and he did it all very well in his stride.
“I think having had the one run under his belt has also helped him. He has worked well since his win and I expect him to go well.
“But it’s a Novice race and those races are always very competitive. We still think he will get better over more ground.”
Deadline Day had an attentive spectator in his owner, South African outfit Green Street Stable’s manager Justin Vermaak – who was on hand at his winning debut and is now permanently based in Singapore - at the barrier trials, as well as his representative Gareth Pepper and Peters.
The English trainer said Deadline Day was still going through a steep learning curve despite having already opened his account in style – and six furlongs is still a more conducive distance for learning the ropes at this stage.
“It was a perfect trial. You could see him coming back underneath Olivier and he dropped his head nicely,” he said.
“He travelled beautifully after that even if he was wide. He is bred to go over further, but I will run him in another 1200m race for Novice next week.
“While he is still learning, 1200m is better for him. There will no doubt be a couple who will be too sharp for him but it’s all part of his education.”
Peters will be in the same coaching frame of mind as he unveils three more debutants this weekend, including a pair from the China Horse Club on Sunday, Ottawa (Race 4) and Jackfish (Race 10). Placais takes the ride on Ottawa, an Australian-bred three-year-old by Foxwedge in the $38,000 Kranji Stakes D Division 2 race over 1200m while Jackfish, a French-bred four-year-old entire by Exceed And Excel, is entered in the $60,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over 1100m and will be partnered by Vlad Duric.
Ottawa had two runs in Newcastle for a third over 1150m for Peters’ ex-boss, the Hong Kong-bound Michael Freedman while Jackfish is a two-time winner over 1500m in French provincial tracks when prepared by trainer Francis-Henri Graffard
The third newcomer is Pacific Pearl, an unraced Japanese-bred three-year-old filly by Empire Maker and raced by Dr Tan Kai Chah.
“Both (Ottawa and Jackfish) had two trials and plenty of work. They will probably get a lot of natural improvement out of Sunday’s races,” he said.
“They are both drawn pretty awkwardly, which is not ideal. Ottawa will have to come back from 14 and be ridden quietly while Jackfish will probably do the same from another tricky barrier in nine.
“They will have to make so much ground and will need plenty of luck in running. It’s a build-up towards the future, hopefully they race the right way at their first race.”
Another China Horse Club-owned galloper will race for Peters in between (Race 7), in the $80,000 Class 3 race over 1400m, First Precinct who took a creditable fifth place to Absolute Miracle in a Kranji Stakes C race over 1400m on February 24. Peters said the More Than Ready four-year-old could have done even better on that day.
“He hit the line strong at his last start. Glen Boss (who rides him again on Sunday) said the track was shifty as we had a bit of rain on that day,” he said.
“He is drawn well (1) and hopefully, he can run a good race.