Be Bee out to prove he’s no has-been

Racing stories are usually filled with younger horses following into the hoofsteps of their elder siblings, but Be Bee will try and buck that trend this Saturday.

Be Bee winning the Hcp (C1)
Be Bee winning the Hcp (C1) Picture: Singapore Turf Club

The dual Group winner's younger full brother Be You shed his bridesmaid tag by bouncing back to the winner's enclosure last week. Also racing in Singapore's iconic red-and-yellow colours of the Auric Stable, the promising three-year-old has now stretched his enviable record to two wins and three seconds in five starts.

At six, Be Bee  has already enjoyed his fair share of glory at Kranji, but is now getting on. The older scion of Showcasing out of The Other Woman has lost the sting shown at his 2YO and 3YO campaigns.

The Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) and Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m) winner registered the last of his six wins more than two years ago in a Class 1 race over 1200m on January 18, 2019.

Be Bee has clearly held his own among Kranji's elite, coming off a steady rise from Restricted Maiden to Class 1 level, but the rot set in shortly after his last win.

There was nothing wrong with him, he is sound as a bell, but Be Bee was starting to race more like a has-been.

At his last seven starts, including two before the confinement last March, he finished among the also-rans, a shadow of his former self.

One trait trainer Shane Baertschiger noticed in Be Bee during those lacklustre runs was a tendency to idle off at the rear. The Australian then decided to tinker around with headgear in a bid to inject a bit of get-up-and-go back into the ageing gelding.

At a barrier trial last week, Be Bee sported blinkers, an equipment he wore only twice early doors, and visibly didn't resent if his two placings are anything to go by.

The gear change seems to have stirred something up in him because he shot straight to the lead, albeit after being sooled forward by Matthew Kellady at barrier rise, before scooting off to an emphatic win in the home straight.

While the test seemed conclusive, Baertschiger cautioned the same frontrunning pattern won't necessarily be replicated in the $70,000 Class 3 race over 1200m on turf this Saturday.

"Be Bee has been out of form. I gave him a freshen-up and the blinkers were on at his trial," said Baertschiger.

"I'm just hoping the blinkers can sharpen up the old bugger. Sometimes, just mixing up their gear can get them going again.

"He's been flopping out of the gates to drop at the back, and he's not been making any ground. I wanted him to be ridden more positive in the trial, and that's why I told Matty to make him trial that day.

"He went all the way, but he won't lead this Saturday. There will be plenty of speed with horses like Makkem Lad and Super Invincible in the race, hopefully he can settle somewhere in midfield."

Kellady, who combined nine times with Be Bee for one win, said the shades did enhance his focus in the trial, but he was also made to work for it.

"He's not getting any younger, he has lost a bit of his spark, so the blinkers helped. I could ride him more positive out of the gates," said Baertschiger's long-time No 2 stable jockey after John Powell, who counts three wins from 14 rides aboard Be Bee.

"But I had to be a bit more aggressive on him. I wouldn't let him drop the bridle.

"He won't be able to lead in the race tomorrow, though, as there is some speed in the race. If he can sit just behind the speed, that would be great.

"We just want to get his mind back into racing."

Winners have been few and far between for the Ipoh-born rider this year – a dead-heat on Vulcan (with Proof Perfect) on the opening day on January 3 and longshot Free Fallin' just two weeks ago, both for Baertschiger.

The 41-year-old jockey is banking on his Saturday book of four rides to improve his score, singling Be Bee out as his best chance. He also rides Baertschiger's Eight Ball and Atlas, and Apollo Rock for Stephen Gray.

"I've had a quiet season so far, but again, I'm very thankful to Shane for his support," he said.

"Without Shane and his dad (Don), there wouldn't be any Kellady today. I owe them everything.

"Be Bee is my best chance of the day. We are trying something new, let's see if it brings results."

Baertschiger said the drop back from seven to six furlongs didn't mean he failed to see out the trip at his last start (10th) in a Class 3 race over 1400m captured by Augustano.

"He can run 1400m no problem. He should have won the second Leg of the 3YO series (Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1400m) but he got held up and ran second (beaten half-length by Mister Yeoh)," he recalled.

"But 1400m is tops for Be Bee."

It's an open secret Baertschiger does have a bit more time for the younger brother, which probably explains why he rationalised it would be more of a coincidence should Be Bee emulate Be You this Saturday, and nothing to do with DNA.

Besides, other than the white faces, he said the two offspring had not quite taken after each other even if it was the parentage that caught his eye from the 2019 Karaka yearling sale book.

"(Auric's) Jerry (Sung) was not too keen when I told him I spotted a full brother to Be Bee at the yearling sale," said Baertschiger.

"When he saw the trials, he changed his mind. Be You has so far shown more promise than Be Bee, he has more scope, he can get up to a mile.

"He's pulled up good after his win. He'll go to a Class 4 1400m on April 24 next.

"If not for the 3YO series, I would have then stepped him up to the mile, but he'll get a freshen-up before I bring him back for the Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m)."

To be run on June 27, the Group 3 event is traditionally the first Leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge, but a toned-down feature race line-up will see it run in tandem with the second Leg only, the Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic (1400m) on July 18. The third and final Leg, the Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m) is cancelled.

Singapore Turf Club