Dual New Zealand Group 1 winner Mini Force X is on paper the best horse to have joined Young Keah Yong in his five years as a trainer at Kranji, but that still doesn’t mean the Singaporean will cut corners with his precious charge just for the sake of getting more bang for the owners’ buck.
The son of Dundeel had Singapore Derby written all over when he arrived last year as a four-year-old boasting the Group 1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) and Group 1 Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) on his resume when known as Yourdeel and prepared by New Zealand powerhouse Te Akau’s trainer Jamie Richards.
Granted he didn’t quite replicate the same form when he crossed the Tasman Sea to Team David Hayes in Melbourne and Adelaide, even when he was stepped up to a distance more in line with his pedigree, but his new Hong Kong connections could still have high hopes for their new pride and joy at Kranji.
Unfortunately, a year has passed, Mini Force X has raced only once, and the Derby never came to fruition – not exactly the kind of ROI expected from such a high-profile acquisition.
Shortly after his encouraging fourth to Makkem Lad at his Kranji debut in a Class 3 race over 1200m in December, Mini Force X succumbed to an injury in trackwork.
Surgery was the only recourse to the joint issues he was diagnosed with. The Derby in July was touch-and-go, albeit still achievable, but Young felt he wouldn’t do the horse justice by racing against time just for one race, with a risk it all unravels thereafter.
After talks with the owners, Young decided to put a line through the four-year-old major even though that had been his primary goal, and probably the 2021 season, too.
Mini Force X has, however, come right as his reappearance at a barrier trial on October 7 would suggest, paving the way to his racing comeback in the $70,000 Class 3 race over 1200m this Saturday.
To bring such a valuable horse back after 315 days was in itself more than a “mini” victory to Young, who intends to use that race as a gauge to what is in store for next year.
“Mini Force X was one of my best horses. I had high hopes for him,” said Young who has booked A’Isisuhairi Kasim for the ride.
“He ran more than okay at his debut when he ran fourth with Ruan Maia. We were expecting him to even win second-up, Maia was very confident, but then the horse was hurt in trackwork.
“He had to go for surgery to his joints. I could have brought him back earlier, but I wanted to make sure he was fully recovered and I gave him more time.
“We didn’t want to rush him, and it was not a problem to scrap those Derby plans. The Hong Kong owner (Hong Kong Bloodstock Stable) was very patient and understanding and supported me 100%.
“He is a horse for next year, but after he’s shown he had recovered 100%, with his scans all clear, I brought him back in work.
“He had a nice quiet trial three weeks ago (when fifth to Dr Kardo). He was ready to return to the races.”
Mini Force X was never bustled up by Young’s apprentice jockey Iskandar Rosman after he stepped out nicely into the box-seat in that barrier trial on October 7, coasting to the line, just under two lengths off the winner Dr Kardo.
With his big baldy white face and ash-grey tail, Mini Force X is easily distinguishable, but Young is aware races are not beauty contests.
“He is quite a unique horse on looks, but he has all to prove here,” said Young.
“We’ll take it one race at a time. The 1200m is ideal for a comeback, but he obviously needs more ground.
“As you’d imagine, he’s not 100%, but whatever he does on Saturday, he should improve from it.”
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