26 April 2018

Polytrack main hurdle to Aramco's bid for second Leg

A wide alley in a sprint feature is not usually good news, but trainer Shane Baertschiger didn’t think it was the end of the world for Aramco.

The Australian handler is more worried by the surface the winner of the first Leg of the Singapore Sprint Series will race on for the first time in the second Leg – Polytrack.

The $500,000 Group 2 Merlion Trophy (1200m) is the only Leg among the three run on the all-weather.

First-up from a five-month layoff, Aramco posted an impressive win in the first Leg on turf, the Group 3 JBBA Rocket Man Sprint (1200m) under handicap conditions on April 1 while the grand final, the $1 million Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) will be held on May 26.

Baertschiger first winced when Aramco drew the second worst alley in 13 in the Merlion Trophy, but after having another rethink, decided he could live with it.

“My only concern is the Polytrack. He’s never raced on it, be it here or in Melbourne, but he trials okay on it,” he said.

“It could be a blessing he is drawn wide. There won’t be as much kickback out there.

“He’s not a speed horse, anyway. He will get back.”

Racing as Mawahibb for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa and Team Hawkes in Melbourne, the Magic Albert five-year-old produced a sound record of one win, three seconds and three thirds in 10 starts, and has thrived further at his new stomping ground.

Aramco has won five times (1200m to 1400m) and placed four times in 12 Kranji starts, toasting to a resounding first Group success in the JBBA Rocket Man Sprint four weeks ago, first-up from a five-month break. A bonus of $50,000 is up for grabs for winning two Legs, while the clean sweep is worth $150,000.

Baertschiger was not too concerned either about the second-up syndrome after rest.

“Last prep, he ran third first-up and beat Clarton Super second-up,” he said.

While two-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey Wong Chin Chuen rode Aramco in the Rocket Man Sprint because of the postage-stamp weight (50.5kgs), John Powell is back aboard with the return to Weight-For-Age conditions.