Saturday, February 23, 2008

Top Spin wins Mile and now eyes the SIA Cup

Champion trainer Laurie Laxon scored back-to-back wins in the $200,000 Group 3 Singapore Four-Year-Old Mile with raging favourite Top Spin on Saturday, automatically earning the Lim’s Stable star a ticket for the Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup in May.
Laxon captured the premier Mile event last year with Crusoe, who eventually RSVP'd the invite for the $3 million race three months later, albeit without success.
Top Spin, who has yet to win beyond 1800m, showed all the makings of a classy sort when he shook off a small but select field including Royal Star and Fantastic Owners, among others.
When asked if the Arena gelding is up for the SIA Cup challenge, Laxon revealed he did not have just the 2000m showpiece on his radar screen.
“I’d like to aim him for the QEII Cup and the SIA Cup, but the series of races like the Patrons’ Bowl, the Derby Trial and the Derby appeal to me as well,” said Laxon.
“Even if they are sprinters, against their own age they can get away with winning over a staying trip,” he said.
But Laxon added Top Spin was likely to have a quiet time in the stable in preparation for a tilt at those major races later in the year.
“I would say he won’t have a saddle on him for a week now,” Laxon said. “He’s had some racing of late but by the same token I don’t think he’s fully fit.
“He’s such a good doer. He looks a little round to me, but he’s still doing a good job.
Jockey Saimee Jumaat decided not to take any chances by camping Top Spin just outside early leader Fantastic Owners (Barend Vorster) for the first 400m. Immediate danger Royal Star (Noel Callow) had the perfect slipstream just behind Top Spin, on the outside of Strawberry Power (John Powell).
The order remained unchanged until the home turn when Top Spin levelled with Fantastic Owners and edged forward. But Brian Dean’s horse put up a stirring battle before giving in, by which time other contenders were lining up.
Royal Star was two lengths adrift at the 100m but started to bridge the gap as Top Spin started to feel the pinch in the concluding stages. But the SIA Cup 2008 invitation was never going to slip from Top Spin’s grasp as Royal Star fell in by three parts of a length on the line.
Mohd Yusof’s former Malaysian-based Watch The Crab (Robbie Fradd) ran on well for third, giving the impression he needs longer.
Top Spin has been a consistent money spinner for the Laxon stable. Saturday’s victory was his tenth from 16 outings with a further six placings. He has prizemoney now approaching the $900,000 mark.
Saimee said Top Spin was now looking for more ground in his races.
“He’s looking for a trip beyond a mile now,” Saimee said. “I gave myself as easy a time as I could but he does it easily. He gets to the front and then does it easily. He’s so easy to ride.”
Callow was delighted with the first-up performance of Royal Star.
Having his first start since December 16, the Danske four-year-old kept chasing to the line and will benefit from the run.
“I was mindful that we were first-up at the mile,” Callow said. “I couldn’t pop out on straightening as I didn’t want his run ending on me.
“I would say on that effort he is definitely the up-and-comer from the race.”
The Big G

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