South African Group 1 winner Noah From Goa atoned from his defeat on debut by scoring a resounding all-the-way victory that was a truer reflection of his potential in the $125,000 Better Than Ever 2010 Stakes, a Kranji Stakes A race over 1800m on Sunday.
The 2015 Cape Guineas winner was launched over a similar Kranji Stakes A race, but over 1200m at his Singapore debut five weeks ago. Donning blinkers on that day, the Tiger Ridge six-year-old was like a fish out of water, not to mention he got galloped on and returned with cuts to his near-fore.
A first-up defeat from a much-hyped galloper is always hard to grapple with, but trainer Ricardo Le Grange copped it on the chin, and to his credit, did not dwell on it, confident in his horse’s ability to bounce back.
The South African handler did away with the headgear second-up, and also stretched the chestnut out to a more suitable trip. Chuck in a rousing barrier trial win (August 2) in between, and the machine was ready to rumble.
That he did in brilliant fashion on Sunday, under the guidance of Nooresh Juglall. The Mauritian jockey, who was also aboard at his first Kranji outing, did not hold back when he noticed the other seven runners’ reluctance to go forward.
From the moment Noah From Goa took charge, it became increasingly clear they would be hard-pressed to run him down in the home straight.
His joint-favourite ($20) Makanani (Olivier Placais) did sneak up threateningly on his inside, while Song To The Moon (Matthew Poon), Blue Swede (John Powell) and El Dorado Classic winner Secret Win (Benny Woodworth) were mounting an all-out assault to bring him down, but not to much avail.
The former Mike de Kock protégé never weakened, ambling away to a most impressive 1 ¼-length win from Makanani with Song To The Moon third another neck away. The winning time was 1min 49.49secs for the 1800m on the Long Course.
A delighted Le Grange could breathe better after such a scintillating performance from possibly the best-credentialled horse he was given since he took over Patrick Shaw at the end of 2016.
“Like I said, I learned a lot from the horse. After his first run, I’ve gone back and done things that worked the right way for him,” he said.
“I’ve put this first run behind and it’s great the horse has won today. To do this at his second run after a lengthy break while giving weight to his rivals, it was a really decent effort.
“I’ve got a few people to thank now. First of all, big thanks to Mike de Kock who sent me such a good horse to train.
“It’s also a great honour to train for Mary Slack and her daughter Jessie. They are famous owners and top breeders back home.
“I would also like to thank Nooresh who rode a cracker. He allowed the horse to dictate and that went in our favour.
“I also have to thank his track rider Ayie who rides him every day. Ayie’s a proper rider and you need someone like him to ride a quirky horse like Noah From Goa.”
Juglall said he did not set out to lead, but the early circumstances of the race led to such a tactic in the end, and from thereon in, he just rode Noah From Goa for luck.
“Back home, he usually races handy, so I wasn’t expecting to lead, but nobody was committing to go forward. So I led, and rode him like he was the best horse in the race,” said the Mauritian jockey.
“I still didn’t want to go too hard on him or he’ll get too uptight. I decided to ride him as slowly as I could.
“There were a couple of good stayers in the race. But I was confident I was sitting on the best horse as we tried to outsprint them.
“Everything worked out so well. He got his confidence back and showed his true colours today.
“I’m very happy for Mary. This horse has a bright future here.”
Noah From Goa is a stakes earner of more than US$200,000 racked up from a stellar record of five wins (which also includes the Group 2 Dingaans over 1600m in 2015) in 12 starts, including five in Dubai where his best run was a third in the Group 2 Zabeel Mile in February. He has now banked in close to $65,000 at his new home.