It's Mikki Joy again

Mikki Joy proving too good in last night’s main $85,000 Class 2 race over 1,800m. He is touted to be a Singapore Gold Cup prospect by both his trainer and jockey.
Mikki Joy proving too good in last night’s main $85,000 Class 2 race over 1,800m. He is touted to be a Singapore Gold Cup prospect by both his trainer and jockey. ST PHOTO: SALWA SUANDI

7YO follows up with first win over 1,800m; trainer labels horse as Gold Cup prospect

The money was solid throughout and $10 favourite Mikki Joy justified the faith with another facile victory at Kranji last night.

After the impeccably bred seven-year-old's first success over 1,800m, both trainer Shane Baertschiger and jockey John Powell were already scripting for the blue riband of the Singapore turf - November's $1.35 million Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup.

Powell reckoned last night's win was stronger than the last start over 1,600m, so the 2,000m Gold Cup trip will be right down the Japanese-bred's alley. After all, he is by one of Japan's greatest horses, Deep Impact, a 12-time winner - including seven in Group 1 - from 2,000m to 3,200m.

Mikki Joy arrived from the Land of the Rising Sun with five wins - all over 1,600m - from 18 starts but had been placed over 1,800m. After a 10th placing over 1,200m at his Kranji debut on Jan 3, he made no mistake second-up over 1,600m on Feb 8.

In last night's main event, which saw 10 horses contesting the $85,000 Class 2 race over 1,800m, Mikki Joy was a tad slow to jump. But he progressed smoothly to be handy behind pacemaker Lionrockspirit, who led from Twickenham, who was taken up in a bit of hurry by champion jockey Vlad Duric. Next came Mighty Kenny.

Both Twickenham and Mighty Kenny stalked the leader into the straight but it was Powell who brought the Middle Kingdom No. 3 Stable-owned Mikki Joy up beautifully to level up with Lionrockspirit at the 300m mark and soon waved sayonara.

Dicton sprouted wings late but my best bet was safely home by 11/2 lengths in 1min 48.43sec.

Baertschiger felt Mikki Joy was hard to beat but admitted he was a little concerned when his charge sweated up a bit pre-parade.

"On his trial and work since his last run, he would be hard to beat. But he got a bit worked up tonight. I could hear him in the holding area. He was screaming his head off. It worried me a little bit but, after he got to the barrier, he was really on his toes," said Baertschiger.

"You know, he's usually very, very quiet, so tonight he was a bit fired up, maybe a bit of fire in the belly is good. I said to Johnny be a bit patient on him tonight, we'd ride him a bit quieter and he sprinted quick when he got to him.

"Well, I think he's a real good chance in the Gold Cup this year and he's going to get in with a light weight - if I plan it properly. He's still going to be in Class 2 after tonight, so it could be three wins in Class 2, then we'll work out a programme for him."

On Mikki Joy's staying credential, he said: "He has been placed at 1,800m. All his wins were over the mile but, being by Deep Impact out of a Cape Cross mare, you'd think he's going to run 2,000m easy."

Powell said he was a "fraction concerned" when Mikki Joy came out of the gate a bit slow.

"It could put you back in a bad spot sometimes but, luckily enough, I was able to dig him up there. We had an idea before the race not to be caught on the fence," said the Australian.

"Vlad came up on his horse but couldn't get me over. He had to scoot forward. The mindset was always to stay off the fence, so I have room to get going. Top of the straight, he quickened very well. I think he's a really good Gold Cup chance this year, you know.

"He has never won over 1,800m before, had run second in Japan, but tonight he actually felt stronger at the finish than what he did the other day over the mile and he's getting fitter now. So I think, if he keeps improving, he is definitely going to be a good Gold Cup ride, but I can't make 50kg."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2019, with the headline 'It's Mikki Joy again'. Print Edition | Subscribe