Smart all-the-way winner No Fun No Gain returned to the winning list in style at Kranji last night, after a hiccup at his second start.
Like his trainer Stephen Gray said, you're three years old only once, so the three-legged Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge Series will be on his agenda.
Unlike his debut, No Fun No Gain was ridden from behind second-up and could only finish fifth to rising galloper Siam Vipasiri. That blot on Nov 2 could also be ignored as No Fun No Gain returned lame near-fore after the race.
It was back to the drawing board and No Fun No Gain showed he was back with a vengeance by winning his trial impressively. The playful and colty bay Kiwi-bred was educated to relax and race from behind and he really caught the eye when he charged home in the straight.
Punters naturally jumped on the No Fun No Gain bandwagon in last night's Class 4 Div 2 event over 1,200m in Race 3 on the strength of that trial. After some see-sawing with the Steven Burridge-trained Quantum for favouritism, No Fun No Gain started as the $17 second favourite to $16 for Quantum.
Ridden by jockey Daniel Moor, No Fun No Gain appeared to overrace a little due to the slow pace set by last-start beaten favourite Copacabana from newcomer Smart Warrior, who soon raced up to be abreast. No Fun No Gain was tucked nicely between the pair, who clocked a pedestrian 26.42sec for the first 400m.
Bunched up behind were newcomer Yulong Dream, Super Talent, El Chapo and Eastiger widest. The $23 third favourite Lim's Reform was in another bunch, a similar gap away.
Copacabana was first for home as Smart Warrior drifted out. No Fun No Gain moved up to tackle the leader and had the measure with 200m left to run. Moor reminded his mount of his obligation and was home and hosed. Lim's Reform motored home on the outside for his third successive second placing.
No Fun No Gain will now take the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenges Series path, starting with the $250,000 Group 3 JBBA Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint over 1,200m on April 5. The second leg is the $500,000 Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1,400m on May 3 and the third leg is the $1 million Group 1 Singapore Guineas over 1,600m on May 25.
Gray reckoned his charge would be better over 1,400m to 1,600m. Over 1,200m, it would be hard to topple trainer Shane Baertschiger's Bold Thruster and the Steven Burridge-trained and Lim's Stable-owned crack sprinter Lim's Lightning.
"I don't know if he can beat Shane's horse over 1,200m, or even the Lim's horse. He's looking for 1,400m to a mile, but that's what you do, isn't it? You're three years old once, but time will tell," said the Kiwi trainer.
Although No Fun No Gain has natural speed, Gray and Moor felt it would be best to teach the horse - whom Gray called "a bull" - to sit behind the speed and unwind.
"Stephen and I are both on the same wavelength with this horse. We just want to get him to switch off, but he was just brilliant at the start," said Moor.
"I thought about taking up early, but I just thought we'd ruin the horse. You know, the last trial I rode him with cover and he was very good. Look, I just thought if we pulled to the top tonight, we would be teaching him bad habits."
Friday’s South Africa results
1st 1 Edmonda ($24-$8)
2nd 6 Scarborough Fair ($17)
3rd 2 Fairyland ($15)
4th 10 Yodalicious
Place Forecast (1-6) $26, (1-2) $18, (2-6) $32
Quartet No winner ($598 carried forward)
Scratching: 4 Pierina
1st 7 Zalika ($19-$6)
2nd 8 Sun Up ($7)
3rd 1 Dancing In Seattle ($9)
4th 18 Thokzine
Place Forecast (7-8) $6, (1-7) $9, (1-8) $9
Quartet No winner ($890 carried forward)
Scratchings: 2 Beholden, 10 Hurricane Sasha, 12 Pollymania, 19 My Prerogative
1st 2 Rochester ($9-$7)
2nd 7 Gravitation ($15)
3rd 8 Silvari ($7)
4th 3 Lets Be Frank
Place Forecast (2-7) $12, (2-8) $4, (7-8) $17
1st 3 Laws Of Succession ($19-$6)
2nd 6 Evolver ($15)
3rd 4 Free Agent ($5.10)
4th 2 Wild Brier
Place Forecast (3-6) $16, (3-4) $7, (4-6) $24
Quartet 3-6-4-2 No winner ($550 carried forward)
1st 4 Seeking Wisdom ($81-$24)
2nd 2 Grandissimo ($7)
3rd 7 Titus ($43)
4th 6 Country Rock
Place Forecast (2-4) $20, (4-7) $53, (2-7) $36
Quartet No winner ($734 carried forward)
1st 4 National Park ($11-$6)
2nd 2 Union Jack ($17)
3rd 1 Fifty Cents ($8)
4th 9 Frikkie
Place Forecast (2-4) $13, (1-4) $5, (1-2) $23
Quartet No winner ($1,460 carried forward)
Results of Race 7 and 8 were not available at press time. Log on to www.singaporepools.com.sg for the results