By Andrew Hawkins
What Else But You is attempting to make it four wins on the bounce in Wednesday night’s (12 April) Class 2 Lion City Handicap (1650m) at Happy Valley, and jockey Karis Teetan is looking for a necessary step forward from the progressive Duporth gelding at his return to the city track.
What Else But You heads back to the Valley for the first time since his debut, when he finished a course and distance eighth in Class 3 in January. However, since then, he has put together three wins over the Sha Tin 1600m, all with Teetan in the plate.
“He’s a very nice horse and of course he’s still improving,” Teetan said at Sha Tin trackwork on Tuesday morning (11 April). “Each and every run he’s had, it has got him stronger and made him more confident, which I think is good for him going back to Happy Valley now. This time though, he doesn’t have a good draw so it’s not going to be easy.”
A four-year-old purchased out of Australia as the winner of two races at Toowoomba and Eagle Farm when named Eminent Knight, What Else But You has acclimatised quickly in his new surroundings, something Teetan said came as no surprise based on his early displays in trials.
“He produced a few nice trials before he ran,” the Mauritian rider said. “He debuted at the Valley, he was drawn outside and John gave him a chance, he ran OK from near last. Then he came here to Sha Tin, we tried to take a sit on him and he stepped up to 1800m and I don’t think all those things together suited him. John is continually learning about him, and I think we all learnt quickly that he was better ridden forward, which has worked on him at his last three.”
What Else But You (118lb) meets a strong Class 2 field, including the likes of Jolly Banner (133lb), Winner’s Way (127lb), Winnie’s Honey (125lb), California Disegno (123lb) and Baba Mama (115lb), and Teetan says his future prospects in the grade will get a thorough litmus test on Wednesday night.
“I’m going to be interested to see how he’s going to go against this tougher company, particularly from the wide draw,” Teetan said. “It’s a good trial for him and I think we’ll know more about where his level is after this run. The three times he has won, he’s won nicely but he’s had everything go his way, he’s got cover and he’s finished well.
“This will be a test to see how good he really is because he won’t have things on his side this time, but whatever he does tomorrow night, he will improve on again.”
Among his main rivals is Ricky Yiu’s Jolly Banner, who makes his first trip to Happy Valley after winning four races over the Sha Tin 1400m. Nash Rawiller, who partnered Jolly Banner into third behind Western Express at his first ride on the Lonhro gelding on 2 April, is confident he can bounce back to his winning ways on Wednesday night.
“It was a very good run last time out,” Rawiller said. “The weight probably anchored him a little bit but he had excuses, he knuckled slightly coming out of the gates so we had to ride him a pair further back than we wanted. I thought he rounded the race off well and he got beaten by two handy horses in Western Express and New Asia Sunrise.
“He’s going to Happy Valley now which will be a new experience for him, but he feels to me to be a very adaptable horse and from the gate (four) he should get a nice run. He’s in terrific form, the horse, I was very happy with him going into that race. I haven’t been aboard him since, he’s done very little in the mornings, but Ricky’s happy with him and that’s what counts.”
The Lion City Handicap will bring the curtain down on the eight-race card at 10:50pm.
Owner Cheng out for double success with Gene
Jolly Banner will be the second horse to step out for owner Kenny Cheng on Wednesday night, with Tony Cruz-trained Jolly Gene one of 12 runners in the Class 3 Singapore Turf Club Trophy Handicap (2200m).
Jolly Gene (121lb) almost led throughout over the Sha Tin 2000m last time out, but he was just grabbed by David Hall’s Mambo Rock in the shadows of the post. Matthew Chadwick was in the saddle that day, and he once again hops aboard on Wednesday night as the Galileo six-year-old returns to the scene of his last win in April last year.
“He ran very well last start and only just got run down in the end,” Chadwick said. “I’m looking forward to riding him again. He’s a very consistent horse, he seems to be holding his form so I’m going into this race with confidence. We’ve drawn wide but he’s got gate speed so hopefully we can sit handy without too much pressure and see the race out.
“I think the Valley gives him more of a chance to take a breather around the turns, which is why it suits him more. Hopefully he will be the one kicking clear at the top of the straight.”
Hall may prove the spoiler again though as he sends out Andoyas (131lb), a winner of his last two starts, with Zac Purton to ride.
The Singapore Turf Club Trophy Handicap, one of two trophy races on Wednesday night’s card, will jump as the sixth of eight races at 9.45pm, with the opener, the Class 5 Changi Handicap (1000m), scheduled for 7.15pm.
What Else But You completes a hat-trick of wins this season over 1600m at Sha Tin last start.