“It has been the best year with regard to my own happiness. I go to the stable now and I’m keen and happy to be there, and I think that shows in the horses a little bit.”
Singleton had 24 winners for 2020 and banked four Highway Handicaps, which are available to him as a country trainer, and is looking to find a Country Championships horse.
The stable hasn’t changed that much but, being in the country, Singleton has found it easier to place his stock, while Partners, Niccirose, Remlaps Gem and Rich And Shameless have tasted Highway success.
“I took all the horses I had at Hawkesbury up to Scone, and we have a couple of young horses that have stepped up, like Remlaps Gem,” Singleton said.
“The Highways allow them to get a bit of confidence before taking on the benchmark races in town, and it helps.”
Another part of the puzzle has been working with English jockey Billy Cray, who has become part of the team.
“I didn’t know him before I came to Scone,” Singleton said. “I was riding 14 or 15 a morning myself when I got here, and he offered to ride a couple for me and it went from there.
“He has won a few races for us and is a proper team player.
“He is a bit unassuming but he knows our horses, which is always a help on raceday, and his ride on Remlaps Gem was great the other day.”
The Singleton-Cray combination, which has 12 wins, will look for back-to-back Highways with Rich And Shameless on the Kensington track on Saturday, and the trainer is hoping he can take another step up in 2021.
“He has really gone ahead after that win the other day, and he could be a Country Championships horse,” Singleton said. “He probably needs to find a couple of lengths to get there, but he is improving with every run.”
Remlaps Gem takes the step up from Highway to benchmark company later in the afternoon. The four-year-old had a throat operation before he had started his career, and the past year has been about getting him to settle. He did that perfectly in his Highway win before powering away, and it is how Singleton would like to see him ridden again.
“We did a lot of work with him to get him to come back a bit, and Billy did a good job of getting him to do that in the Highway,” Singleton said. “He has got his share of ability and is relaxing a bit more within himself now as well.
“He will still need that little bit of speed on in the race on Saturday so he doesn’t overdo it, but if settles he has a change of gears.”
Singleton is trying to find the right race for the front-running Partners, which came through his grades in the winter and is second-up on Saturday.
“He is a bit harder to place now but is going to well. The soft ground will be in his favour on the weekend, but he needs a couple of runs to get to his best,” Singleton said.
Racing writer for The Sydney Morning Herald
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