SINGAPORE - Wonderful Prince showed clearly a week earlier that he would indeed be very hard to beat.
This was when the Desmond Koh-trained three-year-old won his barrier trial like a stroll in the park.
He even clocked a faster time than that of the higher-class winner Slew Of Lode.
So, when Slew Of Lode won in Class 3 against a fairly-strong field in Race 7 on Sunday, it was logical that Wonderful Prince would walk home in Race 11 against weak Class 4 opposition.
It certainly panned out that way.
But not before punters got a scare, when the even-money favourite, which I made as my best best, was challenged strongly by Golden Mission in the final 100m.
Luckily, Wonderful Prince dug deep under leading jockey Manoel Nunes' riding to stave off the $63 longshot by a head.
Phew! That was close. But a win is a win, and that was what makes racing so exciting.
The 1,200m race on the Polytrack started with a pack battling for the early lead.
Nine-year-old Pacino, who secured a place in the 12-horse field following the scratching of Wonderful Prince's stablemate and last-start winner Xin Treasure, grabbed the lead after a couple of hundred metres.
Pulled himself up
Wonderful Prince pulled himself up into second, on the outside of the leader.
Wonderful Prince sliced Pacino like a hot knife on butter turning for home and shot clear.
Former Malaysian galloper Taffetas loomed menacingly on the outside.
For a fleeting moment, it looked like the Bruce Marsh-trained runner was going to go past Wonderful Prince, but the mare raised the white flag, just as fast as she charged up.
Golden Mission, who travelled in the rear early, went into overdrive in the final 200m and narrowed the gap quickly with every stride to keep the favourite's supporters on the edge of their seats.
But Wonderful Prince, a strapping New Zealand-bred gelding at 574kg, stuck on gamely for his two from two.
Nunes thought he would win easily based on his mount's debut and trial wins.
"Actually, I thought he could win more easily, going on his earlier win and his trial. In fact, he wasn't 100 per cent when he won. He's a very big horse," he said.
"He was travelling comfortably and, at the 600m, I said 'well, he is going to win easily'.
"But, at the top of the straight, he started to drift out. He's still very green, still a baby. He still doesn't know what to do. He's just a three-year-old.
"I believe, with more runs and more experience, he will improve. I spoke to Desmond to try and put the shadow roll on him because he still jumps about."
Nunes feels that Wonderful Prince would go further over time.
"I believe, with more time, he can go 1,600m," said the affable Brazilian, who was offered the ride on Golden Mission.
"Lucky I got the winner," he said, with a laugh.
He's just a three-year-old. I believe, with more time, he can go 1,600m. - Jockey Manoel Nunes, on two-from-two winner Wonderful Prince.
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