The well-backed Whistle Grand (NZ) (Coats Choice) recorded a hard-fought win in the Lim’s Racer 2016 Stakes (1400m) in Singapore on Saturday.
Vastly-improved since donning blinkers three runs back when victorious (for his second career win) in Class 5 company, the Coats Choice five-year-old again emerged as a serious threat when he was set alight the widest upon straightening.
Race-leader Lucky Imperator (Holy Roman Emperor) was making every post a winning one at the 300m, but Whistle Grand ($37) would not let him give the slip as he loomed upsides.
The final outcome was, however, not quite cut and dried given Leslie Khoo’s charge’s inclination to shift out to the grandstand side. But Zyrul Nor Azman, who rode Whistle Grand to a fast-closing second last time out, would not let this one get away this time.
The New Zealand-trained rider gave his mount a few tastes of the persuader to keep his mind on the task at hand – win, and Whistle Grand responded in the best possible way to just outgun Lucky Imperator by a head.
Khoo went on to saddle a race-to-race double – in fact his first double for the year – with $11 favourite Eunos Ave Three (NZ) (Swiss Ace) breaking his maiden tag with an easy win in the Super One 2015 Stakes (1200m).
“Most of my horses have dropped form this year, but some have picked up after the break, like Whistle Grand,” said Khoo.
“He’s actually been improving since he wore blinkers (at second run after the break). He’s by a stallion whose progeny tends to get better as they get older.”
Zyrul said the insight from the last ride coupled with his hard graft inside the last furlong paid off.
“I galloped him midweek and he felt good. Last time I rode him, he took a while to come out.
“This time, Leslie told me to go early from the 400m and I made sure I came out earlier. It was a lot of work in the straight, and it’s worked out all good.”
With that third win from 16 starts, Whistle Grand has racked up close to S$100,000 in prizemoney for the He’s Dawan Stable, a long-time client of Khoo’s, but which was previously better known as the Trend Stable.