Bookmark and Share
Al Green lowers the colours of top fancies
Michael Lee

Argentinian-bred galloper Al Green sprang an upset when he claimed a few big scalps in the $100,000 Kranji Stakes B Division 1 race over 1000m on Sunday.


The Exchange Rate five-year-old ran a solid third to Iron Man at his last start over 1400m on December 1, but with Tannhauser ($8) and Deimos ($16) almost obliterating the other names in the market, most thought if he was to produce his best over the shorter distance, he would still have to settle for a place cheque.


But racing is never a game of certainty. Al Green (Craig Grylls, $91) for one was not read the tote market order when he emerged as the unlikely horse being hailed the winner at the top of the straight.  

Al Green (Craig Grylls) pulls out all the stops to take out the Kranji Stakes B Division 1 race.

Surely, Tannhauser (Vlad Duric), even if he was bogged down further back than expected, would rein him soon enough. Those who had plumped for Deimos (Michael Rodd) could on the other hand put a line through him as he was clearly struggling two lengths astern.


But Tannhauser soon joined the beaten brigade too when it became clear he was not going to make it five in a row, even if he was steadily closing in.


It was in the end down to two surprise pops Robin Hood (Ryan Curatolo) and Viviano (Zawari Razali) to keep the winner honest in the concluding stages.


Robin Hood was the first to pounce after pacesetter Crazy Dreams (Benny Woodworth) crumbled upon straightening. The rank-outsider ($315) temporarily grabbed the lead, and gave strong signals he was back to his old self as he offered a stiff resistance which eventually gave way to Al Green’s superior finish.


Viviano ($180), who was down in class, steamed home on the outside to miss the runner-up spot by a head for a most difficult trifecta to predict, one which was nonetheless ticketed and paid out a bonanza of close to $34,000.


Winning trainer Stephen Gray was his usual straight-shooting self as he praised Grylls for the ride, but not without reminding him of previous rides which were not as commendable.


“Craig rode a couple of shockers for me before but he rode this one very well today,” said the Kiwi handler of his fellow countryman.


“He rides light, he is a genuine rider and we need riders like him. He is a freelancer and stables like us need riders who are not tied down to any stable.


“This horse (Al Green) has been running good races last year. He was beaten by great horses.


“He was a bit disappointing two starts back when he got back, but he proved he was very competitive today.


“He has matured and is mentally more settled and that’s what patience does.”


Grylls, who was at a race-to-race double after scoring earlier with Mr Clint (see other report), was glad he was finally sealing a first winning outing for Gray.


“It’s good to get a first win for Stephen,” said Grylls who has tallied up 14 winners since his Kranji debut in July last year, but none for Gray until Sunday.


“More so when it came in a good race, a Kranji Stakes B. The horse travelled good and gave a good kick at the 300m.


“He started to get tired as he was entitled to, but he still won a nice race.”


With that third win in 13 starts, Al Green has now taken his stakes earnings close to the $190,000 mark for the St George Stable.