Rising staying star King Louis spearheads a three-pronged attack for South African trainer Ricardo Le Grange in the SIN G1 Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) at Kranji Racecourse on Sunday, 11 November.
King Louis heads into the final leg of the Triple Crown Series as the fifth lowest-rated runner on 87, but that means he is statistically well-weighted on 111lb and the history of this race suggests those down in the handicap pose the biggest threat to higher-rated performers.
A four-year-old son of versatile sire Medaglia d’Oro, King Louis is hastily building a solid record since arriving in Singapore with four wins from 11 starts and his racing style and recent performances suggest that he relishes a stamina test.
King Louis saw the Gold Cup distance for the first time in his career two starts ago in the SIN G3 El Dorado Classic, making light work of the 16-horse field to score by nearly two lengths.
Le Grange could have tackled the second leg of the Triple Crown Series – the SIN G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m) – with King Louis at his next start, and no doubt the tough youngster would have been competitive, but instead placed the gelding in a Class 2 1800m event on the same day.
The trainer’s astute move was designed to protect King Louis’ handicap rating, and it paid off as even though King Louis won the Class 2, he enters Sunday’s race on a dangerous featherweight.
Le Grange also enters QEII Cup runner-up Majestic Moments (125lb) and South African G1 Cape Guineas (1600m) winner Noah From Goa (121lb).
Other rivals at the top of the weights include former Danny Shum-trained gelding Circuit Land, a four-time winner in Hong Kong and now in the hands of Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman.
Circuit Land has seemed to enjoy a change of scenery and has raced consistently of late, placing in the first two legs of the Triple Crown series.
The seven-year-old Mizzen Mast gelding enters this race as the highest-rated runner on 114 and carries top weight of 127lb. Joining him at the other end of the handicap is stablemate and this year’s SIN G1 Singapore Guineas (1600m) victor Mr Clint (112lb).
Since claiming the Guineas with Zac Purton aboard over King Louis in late May, Mr Clint has stuck to Open class events and most recently finished fifth and seventh respectively in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, beaten less than 3-1/2 lengths on each occasion.
Other lightweight fancies include the tough mare Claudia’s Beauty (113lb), who turned in a slashing Gold Cup trial with a fast finishing fourth in the QEII Cup, while Stephen Gray-trained Sky Rocket was a narrow second to King Louis last time out and remains on the minimum 110lb.
Sky Rocket is one of four runners Gray sends out and the New Zealand handler is no stranger to tasting Gold Cup success after winning this race with Bahana in 2016.
Generally saving his best for this race each year, Bahana gets in on 118lb and his recent form follows a similar trend to last season’s preparation before he finished a close runner-up to Gilt Complex.