Kharisma ready for showdown, Latest Racing News

Sometimes, less is best and although a small field of nine will contest the top race on Saturday, there is a load of talent in that compact line-up.

It all makes the Kranji Stakes A sprint an interesting and absorbing contest and the juicy prize purse of $100,000 makes it all the more mouth-watering.

Right now and on paper, it looks like anyone’s race. And adding to the excitement, yesterday morning saw more than half the field being sent out for serious work.

Among them were Grand Koonta and Kharisma, who carry rating points of 101 and 100 respectively into the sprint.

Then there is last-start winner Celavi and two exciting youngsters in Starlight and Arion Star.

While Arion Star and Starlight produced the quickest times of the morning, running the 600m in 37sec and 37.1sec, there was plenty to like about the way Kharisma went about his business.

Ridden by Marc Lerner, he ran out the 600m in an unflattering 40.5sec. 

But there was plenty to like about the commitment in that gallop.

Kharisma was a good thing beaten in the Merlion Trophy race on the last day of the season.

But that race was run on the Polytrack which is not exactly Kharisma’s preferred surface.

So, disregard that showing and go on that run just before the Merlion Trophy.

It was a Class 1 affair which trainer Stephen Gray had picked out for his money-spinner and it all worked out beautifully.

Kharisma relished racing on the turf and it showed when he charged home under Lerner to beat Makkem Lad with a dive on the wire.

The print of the finish showed that he had nosed out Makkem Lad who, incidentally, he will be up against on Saturday.

But back to that win, which was Kharisma’s ninth career success, it was beautifully crafted.

Kharisma did not have the cleanest of getaways and was bumped heavily on jumping.

But he took the bit between the teeth and went about his job.

He still had half the field in front of him at the furlong marker but, with Lerner riding hell for leather, he got up to get the verdict.

Kharisma is a versatile sort. He can handle both surfaces and Saturday’s sprint trip of 1,200m on grass will hold no fear for him.

The same cannot be said of Celavi. She is what racegoers call a “Polytrack specialist” – and they are spot-on.

All of her seven wins have been on the alternate surface.

Indeed, grass seems to be her kryptonite which explains why she has raced only three times on turf.

Back to her workout on the training track and the only “lady” in the line-up did not have anything to prove to the boys.

Head down, mind on the job, Celavi’s work seemed spot-on – even if her 42.3sec for the 600m was not anything to write home about.

The manner in which she galloped was another thing.

There was plenty of intent in that workout and there was no faulting her.

Trained by Michael Clements, Celavi has always been the punters’ favourite and that win in the Merlion Trophy on Nov 27 would have increased her fan base.

While he does not have the glowing credentials of his rivals, Starlight cannot be ignored on Saturday.

Already a winner of four races and with more than $250,000 in the bank, Starlight is a star of the future.

With Shafrizal Saleh doing the steering, Starlight did not put a hoof wrong when running the 600m in 37.1sec.

He slots into the race with a luxury weight of just 53.5kg, as opposed to the 58kg that Kharisma will carry and Celavi’s 55kg.

It will hold him in good stead. Still, there is the question: Is he up to the task? I would say he is.

He won a good Class 3 race at the tailend of October and his second-place finish in the Merlion Trophy deserved a thumbs up.

Yes, Starlight is not out of his depth and he represents good value in, what looks like, a tight contest.

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