Polytrack lover Pennywise needs to adapt to turf

Pennywise showed fighting spirit to get up on the inside to beat Autumn Assault in June last year.
Pennywise showed fighting spirit to get up on the inside to beat Autumn Assault in June last year. ST FILE PHOTO

Noted, Pennywise is a proven Polytrack lover, with all his four successes on the alternate track at Kranji.

But, with the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge in mind, trainer Ricardo Le Grange knows he has to get his charge to adapt to the turf as soon as possible to have better chance in the series.

The South African would have wished his former top juvenile could have his first-up run on turf, but as there was not much to pick from at this point, he would just have to wait for another day.

Pennywise is now the topweight in tomorrow's $70,000 Class 3 Div 1 race over the Polytrack 1,200m. In sizzling form, he should have plenty of admirers and should start as the favourite.

Pennywise would have gone five-up on the Polytrack last time out on Nov 30, but had to settle for third behind Revolution and Longhu. He was beaten by only a head and a short head, so it was a top effort all the same.

He has raced on turf only twice and they both ended in defeat but certainly not in disgraceful manner. He finished not far behind the winners.

Thus, with the three-leg Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge on turf, Le Grange knew it would be wise to get his protege out of the Polytrack comfort zone sooner rather than later.

But, first, he had to keep his charge on his toes and tomorrow's $70,000 Class 3 Division 1 race on the Polytrack was an ideal race to beat those holiday blues.

"Pennywise is in good order after the break. I'm very happy with his trial," said Le Grange, referring to his chestnut Argentinian-bred's fluent victory over tomorrow's likely Race 8 favourite Augustano.

"He had a nice gallop on Wednesday. All's going well, and I expect him to run well on Sunday. I would have given him a run on grass, just so he gets used to it from a 3YO series perspective. But that Polytrack race to kick things off is not a bad thing."

The Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge gets under way with the Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint over 1,200m on April 5, followed by the Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1,400m on May 3 and the grand final, the Group 1 Singapore Guineas over 1,600m on May 25.

Le Grange said the Bernard Kantor-owned galloper's defeats on turf were not entirely conclusive results that he resented the surface.

"He had two runs on turf that were questionable, once in the juvenile race (Aushorse Golden Horseshoe) when he slipped out of the gates with Nooresh (Juglall) and the other one when he got a shifting track and was ridden by Glen Boss," he said.

"He had excuses and we'll have a better idea how he goes when he runs over turf again."

Juglall, who has steered Pennywise to three of his wins, was also in a bullish mood ahead of the gelding's first 2019 assignment.

"Penny has improved with each run. He has four wins on Polytrack and he should go well again," said the Mauritian jockey, who opened his 2019 account with The Big Easy on New Year's Day. "He was unlucky at his last start and, with some luck, he can give us his best on Sunday."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2019, with the headline 'Polytrack lover Pennywise needs to adapt to turf'. Print Edition | Subscribe