Pride of Singapore likely to see off top-notch raiders from Hong Kong
Hong Kong's best sprinters could be left mere spectators in Singapore tonight as destiny awaits a Rocket Man victory in the Group One KrisFlyer International Sprint almost as keenly as the thousands of fans who will flock to Kranji racecourse.
Humbled only by mighty Sacred Kingdom in last year's event as a three-year-old, and despite an injury setback since then, it is only fitting that the pride of Singapore repel the challengers and claim his first International Group One on home soil.
Hong Kong raiders Happy Zero, Joy And Fun and Green Birdie will not make this an easy task, but without relying on luck or Rocket Man's misfortune, it is hard to see our charges taking him on at his own game and coming out on top.
Happy Zero, like Green Birdie, is best ridden off the pace in order to make best use of his withering finishing burst.
Trainer Derek Cruz has intimated Joy And Fun will be ridden in the leading few from gate four behind Australian speedster Gold Trail, who is likely to lead at good pace from barrier two. This early speed will suit Happy Zero and Green Birdie, but from barrier six, Robbie Fradd will also have a host of options about exactly where to position his rocket-powered sprinter.
If the confidence in Rocket Man's camp is anything to go by, as long as he gets a clear run throughout, anything less than victory would be a surprise.
Owner Fred Crabbia, who has raced more than 300 horses since the 1980s, was on hand with trainer Patrick Shaw to see Rocket Man go through his final pacework yesterday and had little hesitation in naming him the best he has owned.
'Pat has him looking good and all he needs is luck in running,' said Crabbia. 'There is no need to strategise. Robbie will just ride his normal race and have him where he is most comfortable.
'If any horse deserves to win an International Group One, it is this horse - he has done everything you could expect of any horse.'
Green Birdie and Happy Zero will be lurking on the turn, and will be suited by a strong early tempo, but unless the Singaporean favourite overdoes it early the duo will have their work cut out to make up the required ground.
Flying filly Mexican Rose learnt the hard way not to take Rocket Man on at his own game and was fairly run off her feet in the Group One Lion City Cup contested over this course on April 24.
Her connections will chance their arm and hope she can finish off over the top of the field from barrier five, while fellow Singaporean's Cheyanne Dancer and Ntini will have little option other than to be ridden for luck from wide gates.
French sprinter Mariol was outclassed at his last start behind Joy And Fun in Dubai and it is hard to imagine him turning that form around from barrier eight against a much stronger field.
The David Hayes-trained Eagle Falls could potentially settle closer from the ideal barrier three, but whether that harms his finishing sectional will only be determined this evening.