Running Tall was right on target at his first¬†Singapore¬†race on Sunday to put himself in good stead for the upcoming Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge.
Previously prepared by Melbourne trainer Danny O‚ÄôBrien for one of Singapore‚Äôs most famous owners, the Lucky Stable, the now three-year-old by Stratum, mixed it with Australia‚Äôs leading juveniles last season, scoring only one win, which was in the Gr 2 VRC Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) at Flemington a year ago, beating Michael Freedman‚Äôs current exciting prospect Masthead into fourth.
Prior to that Group 2 success, Running Tall counts a third at debut in the Gr 3 Maribyrnong Plate (1000m) where Masthead again ran fourth and a second to eventual Golden Slipper winner ¬†Sepoy in the Gr 3 Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m).
With such a glittering resume to his name in Melbourne, the expectations were high at Running Tall‚Äôs Kranji debut in the $65,000 Novice race over 1200m on Polytrack, especially after he gave a sneak preview of his potential when second to star stablemate Rocket Man in a barrier trial on March 20.
Though he was inclined to overrace a little during the race, Running Tall ¬†was always put in the gun spot by jockey Barend Vorster from the start, camped on the girth of race-leader Mr Whyte. Turning for home, Running Tall easily swept past the leader to open up a winning break but weakened late to score by 1 ¬Ω lengths from Man Of Substance with Foxtrot Hotel third another head away.
With Shaw currently in Dubai to oversee the preparation of Rocket Man towards his tilt at back-to-back wins in the US$2 million Gr 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (1200m) on March 31, assistant-trainer Ricardo Le Grange was on hand to lead in their 11th winner for the year.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs always a bit of a pressure to handle a horse who came to us with such a huge reputation,‚Äù said Le Grange.¬†‚ÄúHe was no doubt a smart two-year-old back in Australia, but I think we made the right decision to geld him as he was very coltish when he arrived (last December).”
‚ÄúHis form improved from trial to trial when the blinkers came on. He was up against a good strong field and he did well to win first-up.¬†He was a bit keen but that is okay as it was his first race here. He had the race won at the top of the straight.”