In-form trainer Leticia Dragon had a choice between the tried and tested and the uncharted territory for her undefeated four-year-old Surpass Natural.
Picking the former, she was proven right on the money after the son of Elvstroem made it a three-in-a-row – and arguably brought up his most impressive win thus far.
Dragon had been deliberating long and hard between Friday’s $50,000 Class 4 Division 2 race over 1200m or one of the two Class 4 races over 1400m on Sunday.
Currently riding on the crest of a wave after securing the Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m) with longshot Star Emperor last Sunday, Dragon can do no wrong these days.
“It was a flip of the coin between the 1400m and the 1200m on Poly. I thought the 1200m would be just a bit better for him,” said Dragon.
“John (Powell) rode him a treat, he knows him well. It was a good training effort to put it together for a third win in a row tonight.
“I’d definitely like to step him up in trip eventually, but tonight, I think it would have been too much for him.”
Beginning smartly for regular partner Powell, Surpass Natural, who was hammered late into $7 favouritism, shot to the lead, but at an even tempo, with Bartimaeus (Callan Murray) and Iffragal (Chan Wei Sheng) able to follow in close attendance.
After getting a breather midrace, he was given his full head by Powell shortly upon cornering. The response was a dazzling turn of foot that put a three-length space on Bartimaeus, who to his credit, did not throw in the towel and kept chipping away at the margin.
But Surpass Natural was not to be surpassed on the night. Powell eased him down the line as they safely held Bartimaeus at bay by two and one quarter lengths. Northern Sun (Wong Chin Chuen) flashed home late to just miss the runner-up spot by a short head. The winning time was 1min 11.49secs for the 1200m on the Polytrack.
Powell was on the same page as Dragon about Surpass Natural not being quite in the best disposition to explore longer journeys at this stage.
“He’s a nice horse and he had a good draw (3) tonight. The other horse (Salamence) is more off the pace and he was too good for him,” said the Australian jockey, well known as an astute judge of pace on frontrunners.
“It’s onwards and upwards with him. We will probably look at 1200m with blinkers on, and in a Class 3 race with a light weight.
“He will get 1400m and 1600m, but he is not mentally ready for such distances yet.”
Surpass Natural has certainly exceeded expectations, having now already pocketed close to $100,000 in only three outings for the Sky Eye Stable.
– Singapore Turf Club