Le Grange duo in firing line for Golden Horseshoe fourth Leg

Trainer Ricardo Le Grange clearly holds pole position as he saddles the two favourites in Sunday’s $75,000 Magic Millions 2YOs in Training Sale Stakes (1200m) - Rocket Star and Golden Dash.

Both two-year-olds head into the fourth and penultimate Leg of the annual Singapore Golden Horseshoe series as solid last-start winners, with Rocket Star the winner of the second Leg, the Thoroughbred Breeders Australia Centenary Stakes (1100m) one month ago.

Rocket Star
Rocket Star Picture: Singapore Turf Club

Rocket Star  (Callan Murray) is a question mark on turf while his stablemate Golden Dash  (Juan Paul van der Merwe, below) already has proven form on turf.

Golden Dash
Golden Dash Picture: Singapore Turf Club

With Le Grange currently back in his native South Africa to watch this Saturday's Durban July, it's his assistant-trainer Jacci de Tert (pictured above) who is shouldering the heavy responsibility of overseeing the duo's final prep towards that race – the last test before the grand final, the Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) on July 19.

While the South African horsewoman rued the pair's ordinary draws, she could not fault either juvenile's form even if on record, Golden Dash has one more box ticked compared to Rocket Star – turf. Interestingly, the Gold & Chelsea Stable (Yong family)-owned gelding (x Suggestive Boy) is of Argentinian origin, a breed which normally loves the all-weather track.

"The draws are not ideal, but both horses have been working really well," said de Tert.

"We can't fault them. They have both come on exceptionally well from their last wins.

"In terms of surface, Golden Dash might have the upper hand as he's won on turf (with Juan Paul van der Merwe up at his last start in a Restricted Maiden race over 1200m on June 7) while Rocket Star has had both his two starts on the all-weather.

"But Callan (Murray) did say the grass should not be an issue for Rocket Star, though. Going forward, hopefully, he handles it all right.

"At the same time, with Golden Dash, it's tough to gauge him as he can be deceptive on raceday. He tends to put in extra.

"But I'm very happy with both horses even if we don't know what to expect from the unraced two-year-olds. They are the unknown factors.

"For that reason, it'll be hard to determine how to position ourselves in the race. Obviously, I'll have a chat to Ricky about it."

With both horses having their respective regular partners up, de Tert, who is seldom seen at the raceday frontline whenever Le Grange is on hand, won't have to worry too much about pre-race instructions in the parade ring.

Murray for one seems to have already worked out his own battle plan for Rocket Star, a chestnut son of Star Witness, raced by a first-time Filipino owner, Rodolfo Mendoza.

"Rocket Star has improved from his last start. He has definitely made progress," said the young jockey.

"I can't see any reason why he can't handle grass as he's got a big action. I actually like his draw (11) as it will keep us out of trouble early."

With the yard sitting mid-table this season on 13 winners while last year they were in the Top 10 on 20 winners, de Tert is hoping for a better second half, especially if the new blood coming through perform well.

"Having mostly young horses was always going to be a question mark for us this year. It's a six-month process before you get them up and running," she said.

"This lull we had in the early part was what we expected. It's only now they are starting to get more competitive.

"We have to see how they come out of their first races and train them as individuals. We're lucky those two have done well, and we also have Stormy View who is running in the Restricted Maiden race over 1200m on Polytrack two events earlier.

"She's a nice filly who's already run a nice second (to Charming Diamond) at her debut. Depending on how she goes this Sunday, she may also head towards the Aushorse."


Singapore Turf Club