Zac Kasa has settled nicely

Zac Kasa is not as charged up in his running style as before, which is a good sign.
Zac Kasa is not as charged up in his running style as before, which is a good sign. TNP FILE PHOTO

Cliff Brown-trained Lion City Cup runner-up almost ready to make comeback on Sept 2

Kamikaze speed merchant and Lion City Cup runner-up Zac Kasa seems to have continued to settle more in his running style, much to the delight of his trainer, Cliff Brown.

Burning the candle at both ends will not do and the more relaxed manner will do good for any racehorse, so Brown was naturally beaming with the four-year-old grey Australian-bred he once labelled as a classy horse for the future.

This was after Zac Kasa's relaxed trial victory on Thursday in preparation for his comeback after his second placing in the Lion City Cup on May 26. The gelding did not overrace and was an obedient customer for jockey Craig Grylls.

Although he was quickly off the mark, he did something unusual. He just sat quietly on the outside of two other horses, Whose Else's and Ettijah. It was only after a couple of hundred metres that he strode to the front under his own steam. No unwarranted antics.

At the 600m mark, he was already two lengths in front and three on straightening. Grylls gave Zac Kasa a slight niggle midway down the straight and his mount obediently lengthened in style to win by 51/4 lengths.

Ticked. The good signs of a reformed rogue were all there: No head thrown about, no wide-open mouth and no more a bullet-train express.

The only difference with his two wins from six starts was the more torrid time to keep the reefing and tearing in check. Zac Kasa then just exploded out of the machines, pulling like a train even in the able hands of jockey Michael Rodd.

He settled a touch better at his second win in a Class 4 Premier race over 1,200m on April 8 when the blinkers were off - and the gloves, too. Like a prize fighter, he punched his way to the front, breaking the hearts of his nine rivals with his runaway three-length win.

True to form, Brown was not reading too much into the talented sprinter's sizzling barrier trials, including the one a week earlier when he set the pace, only to be run down late by Super Fortune.

To Brown, the main satisfaction to be derived at that second prep was his improvement in the head department.

"Some people thought it was daring to run him as a three-year-old in the Lion City Cup, but I always knew this horse had great ability," said the Australian, who won Singapore's premier sprint race twice with Zac Spirit.

"We don't know until we have a crack, and he's done very well with a second place to Lim's Cruiser.

"The good thing is he has now learned to settle better after the break. He's a lot more level-headed and is improving his barrier manners all the time."

Zac Kasa was actually aimed at a racing return tomorrow, but was a steward's scratching from the Kranji Stakes A race over the Polytrack 1,100m.

Brown has gone back to the programme, picking out the Kranji Stakes B race over 1,000m on Sept 2 as his first-up race.

"I would have preferred an 1,100m or 1,200m race first-up, like that Kranji Stakes A race on Sunday, but he couldn't get in. The 1,000m is a bit sharp for him now, I think he's looking for more ground," he said.

"He'll have a couple of weeks off and I'll give him a nice gallop before his race. He's in great shape, and I hope he brings the same form back."

Grylls, who got his first sit on Zac Kasa in the Lion City Cup after stable jockey Rodd opted for Mister Yeoh, who ran seventh, has since stayed on. The Kiwi rider rode him at his two barrier trials and has been booked to take the ride on Sept 2.

Rodd recognised he might have pulled the wrong rein but, as the true sportsman, the Australian jockey was delighted for Zac Kasa's connections.

"I certainly regret my decision to not ride Zac Kasa in the Lion City Cup as I have no doubt he will progress to becoming the best sprinter in Singapore," said Rodd.

"It was a tough decision at the time as they are both smart horses, but one of the owners of Mister Yeoh's has been my best friend since school days. So, that swayed my decision."

A son of Reset, Zac Kasa is raced by Dr Andy Wong of Zac Stable, better remembered for being the owner of Brown's former champion sprinter and dual Lion City Cup (2014 and 2016) winner Zac Spirit.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2018, with the headline 'Zac Kasa has settled nicely'. Print Edition | Subscribe