King's Speech, one of the 10 newcomers in the field of 12, rang loud and clear as he made a dream debut at Kranji last night.
The three-year-old New Zealand-bred's brilliant turn of foot to take the $85,000 Restricted Maiden event over 1,200m on the Long Course D in Race 2 was testament to his ability and the promise of more wins to come.
Mind you, his trainer, Stephen Gray, reckoned that the St George Stable-owned galloper was not 100 per cent yet and there is plenty of scope for improvement.
"Yeah, he showed a lot of ability. He showed a bit in the trials back home and he obviously has come on. He'll improve lengths on that because I just didn't think he was 100 per cent really, to be honest," said the Kiwi trainer, who saddled Lim's Cruiser to capture the Group 1 Lion City Cup for the second successive year last Saturday.
"I'm quite impressed with the horse. There's so much improvement in him. I thought at the top of the straight he was going to run second or third, and it would be a great effort. But I think his ability came through in the end."
Gray had felt that King's Speech probably needed the run as he had not been too tough on the horse in training. He was actually looking for another race but there was none on the grass in the month, so he might as well take a roll of the dice with the horse last night. It was certainly a decision he did not regret.
Ridden by champion jockey Vlad Duric, King's Speech jumped well from barrier 4 and was placed in a nice handy position, not far from the leader.
Fellow newcomer My Friends led early from the inner-nost barrier. But the Desmond Koh-trained $19 favourite Beautiful Day crossed in from his wide draw to overtake My Friends by half a length on settling down and clocked a steady 24.28sec for the first 400m.
Stardice and Blue Hawaii, both also newcomers, were two lengths behind. Then came King's Speech and another newbie Our Showcase, slightly over a length away.
Beautiful Day, who finished on board in all his four starts without winning, increased his lead to about two lengths from the 800m mark and straightened handily. But his early dash to cross in to bulldoze to the front soon tooks its toll.
My Friends overtook him easily at the 400m mark. Our Showcase was making good progress on the inside but was caught in traffic. Duric brought King's Speech home with a strong bid with a clear run on the outside.
Responding to Duric's whip-riding, King's Speech had My Friends covered 100m out for a one-and-three-quarter-length victory in 1min 10.12sec.
Our Showcase saw daylight late to rattle home third, a three-quarter length behind My Friends.
Duric said Gray told him before the race that he was impressed with the $54 winner's preparation.
"But he's been a little bit green, a little bit cheeky. But, to the horse's credit, he's the ultimate professional today. He cantered to the start himself and his mannerism was sort of like he has had half a dozen starts," added Duric.
"So, a good barrier was important when the rails are on the long course. We had a beautiful run.
"I was just a little concerned when they went at a relatively steady speed. But he's obviously got a bit of quality, so it's been good for him."
Friday's South Africa results
1st 4 Elle Est Noire ($12-$5.10)
2nd 6 Green Sea ($6)
3rd 5 flame Of Fire ($30)
4th 10 Petipa
Forecast $10 Place Forecast (4-6) $4, (4-5) $54, (5-6) $36 Tierce No winner ($560 jackpot carried forward to next race) Trio $421
Quartet No winner ($16 carried forward)
Scratching: 12 Shepard's Delight
1st 8 Calla Lily ($27-$9)
2nd 7 Lamito Bay ($20)
3rd 3 Born A Bully ($5.10)
4th 5 Speed Flyer
Forecast $95 Place Forecast (7-8) $22, (3-8) $7, (3-7) $16 Tierce $444 Trio $88
Quartet No winner ($448 carried forward)
Scratching: 2 Bonaire
1st 5 Fanfare ($501-$83)
2nd 4 Zalika ($5.10)
3rd 8 Great Sound ($43)
4th 1 Bikini Model
Forecast $181 Place Forecast (4-5) $46, (5-8) $260, (4-8) $37 Tierce No winner ($5,736 carried forward) Trio $680
Quartet No winner ($1,842 carried forward)
1st 9 Everdene ($13-$6)
2nd 6 the Gown ($27)
3rd 2 Ingabangabonga ($13)
4th 4 Honey's Legacy
Forecast $80 Place Forecast (6-9) $22, (2-9) $11, (2-6) $82 Tierce $834 Trio $258
Quartet No winner ($4,558 carried forward)
1st 3 Arabian Dynasty ($9-$6)
2nd 1 Western Wu ($14)
3rd 7 Seattle Swing ($7)
4th 4 Mangrove
Forecast $23 Place Forecast (1-3) $8, (3-7) $5, (1-7) $13 Tierce $90 Trio $21 Quartet $590
Scratchings: 8 Tubular Bell, 10 Lotus Elan
Result of Race 14 was not available at press time. Log on to www.turfclub.com.sg for the results.