Racing: Smart trio will first time out

Racing: Smart trio will first time out
Lively Dragon No 7 (John Powell astride) beating Ninetysix Champ (obscured).

Lively Dragon

March has been very much a coming-out party for trainer Leticia Dragon after LIVELY DRAGON became the second runner in a week from the Singaporean handler's yard to make a winning debut.

Her three-year-old gelding won the $65,000 Restricted Maiden event over 1,000m on the Polytrack in Race 2 on Sunday.

Seven days earlier, Dragon's Raise No Doubt scored a thumping victory in his first Kranji start, beating Windsor Knot by four and three-quarter lengths in an Initiation event over 1,000m on the Polytrack with John Powell astride.

Also with Powell aboard, Lively Dragon, a bay Australian-bred galloper, scored a fighting shorthead victory over Ninetysix Champ (Danny Beasley), with Kauri Park (apprentice Zuriman Zulkifli) a neck away in third.

The winning time was 1min 0.19sec on a rain-affected Polytrack with 57kg. (Raise No Doubt clocked 59.45sec with 55kg).

Heart Pumping

Unlike the previous Sunday's race, which was pretty much a foregone conclusion over the final 400m, this was a much closer affair, as Lively Dragon was a given a fright down the straight when Ninetysix Champ refused to quit and fought tooth-and-nail all the way to the winning post.

"That got my heart pumping quite a bit over the last 50m," said Dragon, who also endured a nervous moment when Powell fell off the $11 favourite as they were milling around the gates before the start of the race.

Thankfully, the Australian hoop was no worse for wear and, after dusting himself off, climbed back onto his mount, who was declared fit to race by the veterinary surgeon.

"He jumped well and got into a good position," said Powell, of his 15th winner of the season.

"I gave him a hit and he kicked on nicely in the straight, and I knew we always had the better of Danny despite him coming up on our inside.

Will Improve

"It was his first start, but he fought really well and he will improve, and this horse will win a few races."

Dragon was particularly pleased with the way the Friendship Stable-owned galloper did not buckle under pressure and responded well to the late charge from the more experienced Ninetysix Champ, who already had three starts under his belt and had threatened to break his duck in each of them.

"I'm very happy with the way he battled under pressure," said Dragon.

"He gave a big performance at the trials recently, so I had a bit of expectation for him ahead of today's race.

"He was purchased by Kathy Hughes (an Australian trainer based in Malaysia who has since returned home) and, when she left, the owners brought their horses down from Malaysia to Singapore and sent quite a few over to me.

"So I'm delighted to get this win for them and thank them for their support.

"I've got a few young horses coming through and I'm looking forward to doing well this year."

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