On face value, Olympic Anthem’s (NZ) (StarCraft x Fire Song) ninth place first-up from a six-month break may have fallen short of a few expectations, but English trainer James Peters was not at all unpleased with the run.
To the second-year handler, it was a fair comeback race for the Trelawney Stud graduate who gave him his first-ever win at his first day in the office on April 1 last year.
The six-time winner (all on the alternative surface) still boxed on well despite being caught four deep after breaking from the outermost alley in the Open Benchmark 97 race over 1100m on April 7, finishing only five lengths off the winner Good News in record-equalling time.
“It wasn’t a bad run at all. It’s been a long time between runs and he carried the topweight of 59 kilos,” said Peters.
“He was running in a strong field. They equalled the track record, and considering he finished only five lengths behind, it was a good effort.”
If Peters had to be picky about the Starcraft six-year-old who was purchased for $150,000 from Trelawney's 2012 NZB draft, the only area in which he might have blotted his copybook would be his barrier antics.
Not to worry, though. He had to pass a barrier test under the usual MRA Rule 78(2), and he duly ticked that box on Tuesday morning.
As an additional schooling precaution, Peters sent the China Horse Club-owned chestnut out for one more barrier education jumpout on Thursday, alongside another barrier rogue Danzeb, trained by Sonny Yeoh. He also passed that test with flying colours.
“He’s already passed his test on Tuesday. I got Oscar Chavez to ride him in that trial as Roddy (Michael Rodd) was still away (suspended) then, and Oscar also knows him well for having ridden him twice before,” said Peters.
“This morning, he just had a bit of an education at the barriers. He went in with the blindfold, and everything went well.”
Chavez was aboard Danzeb this time around, though, while Peters put his new apprentice jockey Pregasam Dellorto on Olympic Anthem. The former Stephen Gray-indentured apprentice jockey is bidding for a riding comeback after a collarbone injury sustained from the ill-fated Bhaskara in trackwork sidelined him for more than one year.
Olympic Anthem is now cleared to run in Monday’s special Labour Day meeting’s highlight, the $125,000 Kranji Stakes A race over 1100m, a race which has brought together only another seven horses, Good News again, and also the likes of Super Winner, Lincoln Road and The General.
“He has improved from that first run and I hope he can run a better race on Monday,” said Peters who has no runners at the Sunday meeting, but fielded three on May Day, including Olympic Anthem and last-start winner Silk Route (third one is Lim’s Blast, a maiden).
“He’s got only 56.5kgs on his back this time while Super Winner will have 59 ½ kgs. -STC