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Distinctive Darci set on a Merlion Trophy path

Polytrack specialist Distinctive Darci’s (Darci Brahma) run on Sunday will give trainer Mark Walker a good guide about his prospects in the S$500,000 Merlion Trophy (1200m) on April 27.

The Darci Brahma four-year-old will run in Sunday’s S$125,000 Kranji Stakes A race over 1000m on the all-weather. Walker would actually have preferred a 1100m trip as a lead-up, but said he could not be too choosy.

“Sunday’s race will be a good trial for the Merlion Trophy, even if I wished it had been over 1100m, but there was no other race,” said the 2017 Singapore champion trainer.

“Last time he drew in and with the blinker-pacifiers on, I wanted him to be ridden closer to the pace than what he’s been doing at his recent starts.

“He’s drawn off the track this time (11), so we may have to settle behind in midfield. I haven’t had a good look at the field, but over 1000m, they tend to go hard upfront.

“If that is the case, we may be able to drop off a little and hopefully he can still sprint home and finish over the top of them.”

That he did at his last start in a Kranji Stakes A race over 1100m on February 23, when sporting blinker-pacifiers for the first time, the Dato Terry Lee-owned galloper was not as outpaced early as at his recent runs. Well rated by Walker’s apprentice jockey Zawari Razali, Distinctive Darci eventually ran on strongly inside the last 300m to beat Nova Missile.

Distinctive Darci did give Walker and connections a fright at the start, though. He burst through his gates before being brought back behind the gates to be loaded up again, only after being vetted clear to race.

Because of his barrier antics – which he had never exhibited before – Distinctive Darci had to pass a barrier trial test, which he did on Tuesday in a leisurely hit-out.

“He’s never done what he did at his last start, but he passed his barrier trial test yesterday. Vlad (Duric) just gave him an easy trial and I was very happy with that,” said Walker.

“Hopefully, he’ll run well on Sunday.”

Duric, who steered Distinctive Darci to two of his seven wins, has picked up the ride on Sunday.

Originally scheduled as the first Leg of the Singapore Sprint Series, the Merlion Trophy underwent two major changes this year – it is now slated as the second Leg after the JBBA Rocket Man Sprint (1200m) and has also seen its total purse increase from S$350,000 to S$500,000.

“Distinctive Darci has not done so well in feature races, but the Merlion Trophy is the only Polytrack feature he can go for,” said Walker.

“It’s also worth half-a-million dollars now, so why not give it a bash.”

Distinctive Darci has run four times in feature races, finishing out of the placings each time with his best performance being his fourth place to Lim’s Racer in the Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) in 2016.

His last participation in a feature race came in this year’s New Year Cup (1200m) when sixth, beaten just under six lengths by the winner Speedy Dragon.

Bred by Nearco Stud Distinctive Darci was purchased by Te Akau Racing for $100,000 from Curraghmore's 2015 New Zealand Bloodstock draft. -STC


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