Khoo expects a more tuned-up Diva in Magic Millions

Trainer Leslie Khoo is hoping it was a dislike of Polytrack that was behind Beauty Diva’s lacklustre debut run in Singapore.

The Singaporean handler brought the Showcasing two-year-old filly to Kranji with high hopes she would live up to her brilliant fifth place to Probabeel in January's Karaka Million (1200m).

Her New Zealand jockey-turned-trainer Clint Isdale (ex-assistant trainer to Bruce Marsh at Kranji for a short while) told Khoo that Beauty Diva should be a lovely prospect for Singapore, but her first outing in the second Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series, the Thoroughbred Breeders Australia Centenary Stakes (1100m) on June 9 fell way below expectations.

She did show early speed, jumping smartly on the bridle to settle among the leading bunch, but caught three wide. As the pace picked up from the 400m, apprentice jockey Zy Nor Azman tried to dig the filly up to stay in touch, but she noticeably started to fade out to eventually beat two home, more than 18 lengths off the winner Rocket Star.

Already under the pump in a season that has fallen below his usual standards this year (21st on the log on six winners from 186 starters), Khoo was copping another disappointment, exacerbated by the fact he had pinned high hopes on Beauty Diva, whom he part-owned in New Zealand but has sold to He's Dawan Stable here, to turn his fortunes around.

But the former jockey is not giving up on the filly. He will race her in this Sunday's fourth and penultimate Leg, the $75,000 Magic Millions 2YOs in Training Sale Stakes over 1200m, the first instalment to be staged on turf.

The last Leg is the Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe on July 19, also run over 1200m on turf.

"I didn't expect such a bad run, especially if you consider her good New Zealand form and her run in the Karaka Million," said Khoo.

"She came to us with no problem, has acclimatised well and has been working well, but she didn't put in the run I was hoping for. Maybe she didn't like the Polytrack.

"She never raced on such a surface in five runs (for one win on debut over 800m at Counties last September). She didn't look comfortable on it and she also had a hard race.

"She is a lot fitter after that first run, and I hope she can run an improved race this Sunday. All goes well, she will run in the Group 2 race."

Khoo has handed the reins to senior rider Benny Woodworth for her second-up run.

Khoo also launches another New Zealand-bred juvenile in Communication (x El Roca) in the Magic Millions race, but is not holding his breath for this newcomer raced by the MA Racing No 2 Stable (same owner as his former top three-year-old Lord O'Reilly).

"He's not shown much and I think he'll need the run. Daniel Moor will ride Communication," he said.


Singapore Turf Club