SINGAPORE - Japanese trainer Hideyuki Takaoka looks to have another Longines Singapore Gold Cup hopeful on his hands after the victory of MUSKETEER in the $75,000 Kranji Stakes C over 1,800m in Race 9 at Kranji on Sunday.
Ridden by Alan Munro, Musketeer scored by 1¼ lengths from Don Platense (Manoel Nunes), with Darien Gap (Oscar Chavez) third, two lengths away.
In recent years, Takaoka has made the Singapore Gold Cup over 2,200m almost his own, winning the race four times in the last five years - three times with El Dorado (2008, 2009 and 2011) and with Better Life last year.
He is hopeful of getting Musketeer into the Gold Cup this year as the Japanese-bred gelding is developing into a strong stayer.
Musketeer will now head to the $150,000 El Dorado Classic over 2,200m on Oct 27 in a bid to gain entry into the Group 1 $1.35 million Longines Singapore Gold Cup over 2,200m on Nov 17.
Munro had Musketeer stalking the leader Freezemaster (apprentice A'Isisuhairi Kasim) from the outset, with Don Platense stalking him.
Freezemaster rolled along at a good tempo and still held sway turning for home but the warning signs were starting to be posted with 400m to run.
Shortly after, Musketeer forged his way to the front with Don Platense issuing a strong looking challenge. Darien Gap also started to make ground on the outside.
But it was to little avail, as Musketeer rallied strongly under Munro's strong riding for his fourth win in 18 starts.
Musketeer has had one previous try over a distance, running eighth behind stablemate Better Life in the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby over 2,000m in July.