Oracle West's delight in draw
Rain adds to Singapore Cup puzzle
South African galloper Oracle West tightened his grip on the S$3 million (HK$15.5 million) Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji after drawing well in gate five, but several of the main players in Sunday's feature are more concerned about the weather than their barrier positions.
The Kranji turf surface has been rain-affected for trackwork during the week and a deluge yesterday afternoon had connections of some of the strong chances concerned.
Mick de Kock's travelling foreman, Steve Jell, said the draw rounded off what had been a perfect week for Oracle West, who lines up following a luckless sixth to Viva Pataca in the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin last month.
'From the draw he can be as close as he needs to be in the run,' Jell said.
'We have changed his work around since Hong Kong to sharpen him up as we thought he was a bit dour last start coming back from the 2,400 metres of Dubai [when second to Vengeance Of Rain in the Sheema Classic].'
The Japanese visitors, last year's winner Cosmo Bulk and the in-form Shadow Gate, drew awkwardly in gates nine and 10 respectively, while England's representative, Kandidate, drew perfectly in gate one and is expected to make the running.
France's Doctor Dino, coming off a last-start third to the outstanding Dylan Thomas in the Group One Prix Ganay at Longchamp, had his chance dented after drawing gate 11.
'The gate is not ideal but he's a horse that sits off the pace,' trainer Richard Gibson said. 'I couldn't be happier with the horse but I am hoping to get decent ground and a strong pace.'
Singapore's premier trainer Laurie Laxon had a mixed bag with his three runners.
Crusoe, considered by many the best chance, drew ideally in gate three, while Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner Royal Admiral and Big Easy drew the two outside gates.
'The barrier is ideal for Crusoe as he needs to be covered up but I am more worried about the weather as he needs firm footing, as does Big Easy,' Laxon said.
'Royal Admiral drew poorly, but he will likely be ridden with patience and will come into contention if the track ends ups wet.'
The Pat Shaw-trained Setembro Chove, to be ridden by Robbie Fradd, landed gate seven, but is a wet track query, while stablemate War Horn, who relishes rain-affected conditions, drew on his outside.