SINGAPORE - Trainer Stephen Gray returned from a holiday in time to witness an impressive maiden victory by STRUBELI in the $65,000 Initiation Stakes over the 1,200 at Kranji on Sunday.
Ridden by Joao Moreira, Strubeli scored a 6½-length victory over GOLD DANCER, the mount of Barend Vorster, with Q NINE STAR (Manoel Nunes) a neck away third.
Moreira had to use Strubeli up in the early stages to get across from his widest draw after a smart beginning. Once he got the four-year-old to the head of affairs, Moreira dropped anchor where he was joined by Jose Verenzuela's mount, BANKER'S CALL, and Q Nine Star.
Verenzuela eventually took a sit aboard Bankers Call and Nunes was up on the outside of the favourite as the field turned for home.
Once fully balanced for the run home, Moreira pulled the trigger and asked Strubeli for his effort. Strubeli replied and quickly opened up a winning break on his rivals.
Singapore's champion jockey just flicked the whip at Strubeli to keep his mind on the job over the final 200m as he continued to widen his margin.
Gray had given the New Zealand-bred gelding plenty of time to mature, after being purchased as yearling and left to develop in New Zealand.
Strubeli is owned by Stephan Herzog, who raced Goldschatz with Gray and is the first galloper he has raced since that gelding's retirement.