Karis Teetan will try and strike the balance between “riding the horse” and “riding the race” when Sacred Ibis contests the Class Three Kranji Handicap (1,600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
A low barrier and the C + 3 rail position can often tempt a jockey into being closer to the speed than usual but that can sometimes take the edge off a horse’s finishing burst.
After an encouraging debut late last season, Sacred Ibis won his first two races this time in but has been beaten at his past three despite producing barnstorming finishes.
On a couple of occasions wide barriers have limited Teetan’s options and Sacred Ibis has been forced to come from too far off the speed, but drawn barrier three on Sunday, the jockey has the opportunity to sit closer on the Paul O’Sullivan-trained four-year-old.
“He has been flying home but he has always been getting so far back,” Teetan said. “But when we did draw well over 1,600m, we tried to be a bit closer but maybe that’s the wrong thing to do with him. He seems to want to be left alone and be completely off the bit. He still hits the line when he races closer to the lead, but not as well as he does when he is able to relax more. When he is struggling to keep pace he doesn’t sprint as well at the finish, so we need to figure out the best place for him to be.”
Whatever happens, both O’Sullivan and Teetan are adamant the son of proven Hong Kong sire O’Reilly is still improving.
“Last season he showed some signs but this season it is obvious, the talent is there, he has just been unlucky and beaten by some really nice horses,” Teetan said. “He will improve and he will be a much better horse next season. It’s difficult for a horse that comes from behind in the Hong Kong racing system sometimes but I think it’s still going to be exciting what he does in the future.”
Teetan faces a somewhat similar tactical scenario on another O’Sullivan-trained horse when he rides Class Four Destin in the Changi Handicap (1,200m).
“You don’t have to ride him as quietly as Sacred Ibis but last start we had no option because of the draw,” he said.
“Last start he was stuck for a run for a long way into the straight. This time we won’t have to chase him to get into a beautiful position.”
Destin has won at 1,400m and competed well over 1,650m at Happy Valley, but Teetan has no concerns about coming back to 1,200m.
“I think from a good draw and with the speed on, it’s no problem,” he said.
In the Class One Singapore Turf Club Trophy (1,200m) Teetan rides the John Size-trained House Of Fun, a horse who is yet to win in nine starts this season but has placed in six of his last seven starts against top opposition.
One of those defeats was by a nose and the five-year-old also managed a placing at Group Three level behind stablemate Premiere in the Bauhinia Sprint Trophy.
Teetan is banking on a strong tempo in the race, with the likes of Fabulous One, Magic Legend, Wah May Friend and Peniaphobia all going forward and believes that will help House Of Fun.
“I think he will enjoy the pace, he is the type of horse that doesn’t want to be the pacemaker, but he wants the pace to be on,” he said. “I haven’t ridden him for a long time in a race, but he trialled very well last week and I think he can run a nice race.”