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Ex-Singapore champ ready for sprint
By Alastair Bull
06:45 AEST Fri Feb 8 2013

Age and joint problems mean former Singapore champion Better Than Ever is a race-by-race proposition, but his latest trainer hopes he's ready for Group One glory in Hamilton on Saturday.

Better Than Ever has his second start for trainer Jason Bridgman in the weight-for-age Waikato Sprint (1400m), usually one of New Zealand's most competitive races of the season.

He'll have to take on top mares Final Touch, Xanadu and Zurella, but if he can show the form that earned him nearly $3 million in Singapore, he should be competitive at Te Rapa.

"He takes a lot of maintenance because of problems with his joints and wear and tear, but at the moment he's in a pretty good space," Bridgman said.

"His work's been very good and if he runs somewhere near to his best he's going to be very competitive on Saturday."

Better Than Ever won 16 of his 26 starts in Singapore, including his first 12, but was sent to New Zealand after bleeding in his final Singapore start in May.

In his only New Zealand start, Better Than Ever ran second to King Mufhasa in the weight-for-age Manawatu Challenge Stakes.

King Mufhasa will line up in the Group One C F Orr Stakes in Melbourne on Saturday, rather than seek a third Waikato Sprint.

Bridgman said a top run could mean a trip to Melbourne for Better Than Ever as well.

"It's more likely the spring, but we'll see how he goes on Saturday. There's obviously the Futurity in Melbourne in a couple of weeks which I wouldn't rule out.

"Long-term, if he came up well he'd come up for the Hawke's Bay spring carnival and possibly a tilt at the Cox Plate."

In the other Group One race of the day, 2011 Victoria Derby winner Sangster heads the market for the Darci Brahma International Stakes at $4.50 ahead of Lady Kipling, Artistic and comeback horse Shootoff.