Ato Wins KrisFlyer Sprint; Krypton No Factor

Local sprinter charges past Mr Big to win the international event at Kranji May 20.

Local sprinter Ato, dismissed by the bettors at 20-1, came charging down the center of the course to win the $800,100 KrisFlyer International Sprint (Sin-I) by 1 1/2 lengths at Kranji Racecourse May 20.

The victory by the 5-year-old son of Royal Academy provided trainer Patrick Shaw with some consolation in the race. Shaw also trains 2011 Sprint winner Rocket Man, who was forced to the sidelines early in the week leading up to the race with a minor injury.

Ato broke alertly and was settled in mid-pack by jockey Barend Vorster. Yin Xin shot to the front to set the pace. At the halfway point of the race, Yin Xin gave way to Mr Big, who took and looked to have the race sewn up under Stephen Baster.

Vorster had Ato in an all-out drive on the outside, however, and the pair swept past Mr Big and took the lead. Ato continued under steady urging through the final furlong to win going away.

Mr Big held on for second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Secret Asset. Final time for the six furlongs was 1:10.57.

Heavily-favored Krypton Factor, entering the race off a victory in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I), was never a factor and finished fifth. Jockey Kieren Fallon said afterward that his mount didn’t like the ground. “He can’t act on it. I knew I was in trouble when the rain came. He was a beaten horse from a long way out.”

The victory by Ato didn’t come as a big surprise to Shaw, who said after the race, “It’s bittersweet with Rocket Man not being here, but he was my second choice and I was a little bit confident.

“After Rocket came out it was a very open race, which is why I gave him a chance. It was a great ride.”

Shaw admitted that he had considered gelding Ato after his KrisFlyer run, but those plans will now be shelved. “Obviously now he is going to be a stallion,” said Shaw. “I’m sure now the owners will take him home as a stallion. Otherwise I would be cutting him. I would have liked to have done it, but now definitely not.”

Ato was bred in South Africa by Maine Chance Farms, which still owns 25% of the horse with partners Newbury Racing Stable. Ato is out of the stakes winning mare Another Legend, by Lyphard’s Wish.