A change in track surface and a slightly longer trip worked just as well for WONDERFUL PRINCE, who kept his unbeaten record intact in Race 9 yesterday.
After winning over 1,100m and 1,200m on the Polytrack in his first two starts, trainer Desmond Koh decided to step his charge up over a longer distance on turf to build the three-year-old's stamina progressively.
Despite meeting a fairly-strong bunch, which included the well-supported classy newcomer Alfonso, Wonderful Prince produced a nice turn of foot to beat Alfonso by one and three-quarter lengths in the $75,000 Graduation event over 1,400m on turf.
"The distance suited him a lot," said Koh, of his second winner of the day. His first was CASH DOT COM in Race 7 (see story below).
"I think he'll improve going a little further. He's always trained like a horse that wants middle distance.
"He was fresh first-up. We stole a couple of races with him but I thought, you know, that was the line.
"He has to find ways to go further, otherwise, it will be too sharp for him."
Koh said he started Wonderful Prince on the Polytrack for both his earlier races but he had to try the Wonderful Three Stable-owned gelding out on the grass and over longer distances.
"If you want to go further, you've got to try something on the turf and this was also a trial for him and it worked."
On whether he would set Wonderful Prince for the Singapore Three-Year-Old Series, he said: "I'll have a word with the owners to see if they want to be a bit more adventurous, so maybe."
Jockey Manoel Nunes jumped Wonderful Prince out swiftly and disputed the lead with three other horses before taking the box-seat third on the fence, but only a couple of lengths behind Alfonso, who led from Balestra.
Alfonso was first for home, with a new horse hounding him, Sacred City. Balestra had had enough. Wonderful Prince was clicked up and closed in but did not hit the front until the 100m mark, where he started to pull away.
"He's a nice horse, but still a baby, very green," said Nunes.
"He has got speed. He put himself there. I was just wanted to relax him, otherwise he would overrace and not finish because it was his first time over 1,400m. But he was travelling very comfortably.
"He's still a baby, very green. He's still shying from everything, so he has got to learn more about racing and relax. I'm sure later he will be a nice horse."
This article was published on April 14 in The New Paper.
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