HHT_1908-300x238 Rite Of Spring

Singapore’s Three Year Old Challenge is squarely in the sights of Rite of Spring after he returned to racing in 2014 in scintillating fashion.

The gifted Michael Freedman trained gelding showed he has matured both physically and mentally since his last appearance in mid-November when he raced away to post his third win from five starts on Gold Cup day. The China Horse Club owned performed has now won four of six contests and broke 1min 10 yet again when coming off a modest pace.

“[Rite of Spring] is a lovely horse and he’s done a really good job first-up. Obviously, Laurie’s horse [Daniel] was the main danger, but he held him off well,” Freedman said post-race.

“He’s a big horse physically and didn’t need to fill out, but he has certainly learned to settle a lot better. I think I can stretch him to 1400m now.

“This race slots in just nice as it is three weeks before the first Leg of the 3YO series (Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint over 1200m). Time will tell if he can go all the way to the mile (3rd Leg, Singapore Guineas). If he can run a genuine 1400m, we’ll certainly look at that.”

In a muddling run affair Rite of Spring was pressured by his rivals at different stages of the contest but jockey Manoel Nunes kept his mount out of trouble before giving him full rein early in the straight. Daniel, who last year was able to pinch a win off Rite of Spring when ‘sling shotting’ off his back, was again parked in his slipstream throughout the contest and the two crack performers pulled clear of their rivals. However, Rite of Spring was able to shake off Daniel early in the straight and help him all the way to the line to kick his 2014 campaign off on a positive note.

“This horse has improved so much. Even in his trials, I could feel he was a lot more settled,” Nunes said.

“Last year, he was a lot more immature. He used to be just a jump-and-run type of horse, but he can relax and settle better now.

“Today, from the great barrier and in such a small field, he was able to travel in a good spot behind the leader. He travelled so much better and was always on the bridle.

“Now that he’s improved his manners, I have no doubt he can go over more ground.”