Racing: Positive despite 'unlucky' draw

He may have drawn wide into the unfavourable barrier 13, but trainer Michael Freedman knows that Super Ninetyseven will still be running with a target on his back.

All eyes in the 14-horse field will be trained on the four-year-old gelding, who is the favourite for Sunday's $1.35 million Longines Singapore Gold Cup.

Coming into the annual contest held at the Kranji racecourse, Super Ninetyseven exhibited great form to clinch his first Group One victory in October's $500,000 Raffles Cup (1,800m) race.

But Freedman understands the pressure that comes with being the race favourite and was quick to play down his chances on Thursday at the barrier draw.

Said the Australian, whose other horse Tropaios took barrier 12: "I am rather happy with my horse but you can never be too confident.

"I'll be very happy to win but I don't take too much notice about what everyone else says."

Drawing into barrier 13, regarded as an unfavourable position as it is second farthest from the rails, did not worry him too much.

Noting that his horse, who will be ridden by Alan Munro, favours running from behind, the trainer said: "I'm happy enough. The closer to the rail the better, but he tends to race back in the field."

At the Raffles Cup, with Munro astride, Super Ninetyseven was the last to leave the stalls and ran the start of the race in second-last position.

Though he was a dozen lengths behind the pacemakers, the gelding launched an outside run at the final bend to win by 11/4 lengths.

But the Gold Cup will not be lifted without a fight from other strong contenders such as the David Kok-trained Cash Luck, who will leap from barrier 10.

Three weeks before Super Ninetyseven's Raffles Cup victory, Cash Luck clinched the $500,000 1,600m Panasonic Kranji Mile.

The Kranji Mile, Raffles Cup, and the Gold Cup make up the prestigious Singapore Triple Crown Series.

Said Kok, on Cash Luck finishing a disappointing second-last at the Raffles Cup: "They were all trying to chase us at that race and the horse was not happy with the early pace. It was set up too fast.

"Hopefully now, there will be less pressure and it's better for the horse."

The luck of Thursday's draw went to trainer Bruce Marsh and his eight-year-old gelding Street Legal.

With his experience as the oldest horse in the race and having won three of his last five races, Street Legal is well-positioned to spring a surprise from barrier 1.

Said Marsh: "I am 100 per cent happy. He couldn't have been more convincing in his lead-up runs, he is in mint condition, and he loves the 2,200m.

"He gets all the ticks in my book and we will know on Sunday."

ugenec@sph.com.sg


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