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  1. #1
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    Valbuena back a winner over the mile

    Valbuena back a winner over the mile
    16/08/2015
    Former Avondale Guineas winner Valbuena gave his chance of a second shot at the Singapore Gold Cup no harm with a smart win in the $125,000 Open Handicap (1600m) on Sunday.

    The Kiwi stayer was always brought to Singapore with the big long-distance races in mind, especially his last race back home was a slashing win in the Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie in February 2013.

    Two unplaced runs in the Emirates Singapore Derby (2000m) and the Longines Singapore Gold Cup (2200m), however, dampened the spirits of his trainer Laurie Laxon and owner Sir Peter Vela a little. But they did not give up and the Darci Brahma six-year-old had been a revelation this year, bagging two wins over 2000m this year with Michael Rodd in the saddle.

    Valbuena (Manoel Nunes, on the outside) rides hard to get the better of A La Victory (Corey Brown, obscured).

    Still, Valbuena ($35) was a little neglected in the betting on Sunday, presumably on the back of his last-start fifth to Twickenham in a Kranji Stakes B race over 1800m and the fact he was dropping back to the mile and not to mention with A La Victory (Corey Brown) looking hard to beat.

    But punters had not reckoned with Valbuena’s superior staying prowess which came to the fore inside the last 600m. Settled at the rear but always travelling very well, Valbuena was ridden up from the 800m to be in the running line by the point of turn, but he still had the job ahead with A La Victory powering down the middle like a good thing.

    The complexion suddenly changed when the Michael Freedman-trained galloper ducked in with Brown desperate to get him over the line. Nunes needed no second invitation and duly drove Valbuena with renewed vigour and the favourite was rolled as they claimed victory in a most impressive fashion.

    To his credit, A La Victory found a second gear when Valbuena collared him, but it was too little too late as they settled for second place only a neck away. Singapore Gold Cup winner (2013) Tropaios (Azhar Ismail), who was resuming from a four-month break, turned in a huge run from a Gold Cup point of view to run on for third.

    Valbuena, who was at his third Kranji win, ran the 1600m on the Long Course in the smart time of 1min 34.53secs.

    Laxon said the horse he shares in partnership with his good friend Vela was a late bloomer who would be a leading candidate for the Gold Cup come November.

    “He was a good horse in New Zealand. He won the Avondale Guineas but it took a while for him to come right,” said the New Zealand mentor.

    “I probably backed him up a bit too quickly at his last run (two weeks apart). There was no race for him after his last run, and we dropped him back to the mile.

    “He’s been working really well and it was good to see him win again. He should be going for the Gold Cup again.”

    Nunes did ride Valbuena twice without success last year, and was at his first time jumping back on him 10 months later. The Brazilian was suitably impressed with his turn of foot inside the last 400m.

    “I galloped him on Saturday and he gave me a very good feel. He was in great form,” said Nunes.

    “You always have to respect Laurie with the way he always brings his horses to peak fitness for a race. Today with the light weight and the Long Course, he had a good chance.

    “He didn’t overrace at all today and was very relaxed for me at the back. As I know he is a stayer and it was on the Long Course, I started his run quite early.

    “I knew he would just keep going and he did exactly that.”

    Valbuena has proven to be a handy moneyspinner having already brought his stakes earnings just a little shy of the $200,000 mark for connections.

    While the race was billed as a fairly open contest, it didn’t transpire without its disappointments after the wire. US-bred mare Thumping, who was making her comeback towards a tilt at the Gold Cup, ran last while Laxon’s two other runners Goodman, who led, and Martin, who tailed off badly in the early stages, ran fifth and eighth respectively.


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    Three-in-a-row for Jay Eff Express

    Three-in-a-row for Jay Eff Express
    16/08/2015
    Trainer Steven Burridge is currently enjoying a purple patch of form which kept on keeping on with a double courtesy of Moritz Eclipse and Jay Eff Express on Sunday.

    August is indeed shaping up as a prolific month for the Australian’s yard, with Jay Eff Express bringing up his seventh win, four of which were recorded this weekend. His current tally reads 43 wins for the year, enabling him to jump one spot past Leslie Khoo to now sit in fifth place on the Singapore trainer’s premiership, 12 behind leader Mark Walker.

    Trainer Alwin Tan is also on 43 wins courtesy of Dragon Walk in the opening event, but he is ahead of Burridge on a better countback for second.


    Jay Eff Express (Manoel Nunes, inside) staves off Mighty Warrior's (Corey Brown) stiff challenge to land a
    hat-trick of wins.


    Burridge said there is no secret recipe to his excellent run, just good old hard work and the horses are thriving at the right time. He would rather turn the spotlight on the winning owners, especially the Premier Racing Stable (Jay Eff Express) who has really emerged as a forerunner in the area of horse syndication in Singapore.

    “It’s good for the boys. There are owners from six different countries in this Jay Eff Express, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, etc,” said Burridge.

    “We need to get new people in the game, people who didn’t know anything about horse racing. They can come to the races or watch from home and they can get a good kick when their horses win.

    “This horse (Jay Eff Express) was very gutsy today, especially with the big weight (57kgs). He’s a good honest horse and he has done a good job again, especially as it was now at Class 3 level.

    “I won’t be stepping him up in distance at this stage. I’ll see how he pulls up as he’s raced a fair bit now.”

    Jay Eff Express, a four-year-old grey by Murtajil has now racked up three wins in a row from only four Singapore starts with his only defeat being a second to stablemate Hermano Menor at his debut. His total stakes earnings now stand at $120,000 while he gained A$71,000 in Australia where he raced as Seenaan.

    Regular partner Manoel Nunes described him as a lovely horse who might tackle a mile one day, but maybe not just yet.

    “He’s such a lovely horse who always tries 100%,” said the Brazilian jockey.

    “Today the horse on the outside was a bit keen and I was able to take a sit behind him. They did slow up the pace a bit but he was always travelling well.

    “I think next time I will ride him a bit more quiet. He’s a gentle horse with a good temperament and can relax quite well.

    “Steven and the boys have done a good job with him. At this stage, I would say 1400m is his best trip and maybe he can go up to a mile one day.”

    From his trio of wins, Sunday’s was definitely the most hard-fought with Mighty Warrior (Corey Brown), who shared joint $11 favouritism with him, chipping away at the margin with every stride, but Jay Eff Express never faltered, as he always does, pinning his ears back all the way to the line to reach home by a neck.

    After two fair runs, To Be Remembered (Rueven Ravindra) turned in a more encouraging performance to finish third another neck away. The winning time was 1min 23.12secs for the 1400m on the Long Course.


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    Perfect Pairing for Shaw

    Perfect Pairing for Shaw
    16/08/2015
    Trainer Patrick Shaw’s rush for gold can begin in earnest after his pair of Perfect P and Power Play ran the quinella in Sunday’s $80,000 Class 3 race over 1800m.

    The South African handler had already earmarked the Group 1 Longines Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) as a target for the Argentinian duo, joining the likes of last year’s winner Quechua and Emperor’s Banquet, his usual suspects when the long-distance classics come around.

    But the way Perfect P (Barend Vorster) and Power Play (Nooresh Juglall) pulled away from the small field of seven to fight out the finish on Sunday to run 1-2 in a thrilling head-bobber could not have been more pleasing from a Gold Cup perspective.


    Perfect P (Barend Vorster, on the inside ) gets his head in front of Power Play (Nooresh Juglall) in Race 5 on Sunday.

    “They’re both from Argentina and it was good to see them fight out the finish, with Perfect P just getting up in a head-bobber,” said Shaw.

    “Unfortunately Power Play was held up when he was caught on the fence which is the worst place to be in such a race, especially when there was no pace in the race, but it’s not Nooresh’s fault. That’s racing.

    “Perfect P, on the other hand, went around them and had a clear run to the line. I would be looking at the Gold Cup for both of them.

    “It’s nice to have a few options. The more the merrier.”

    In a race with no noted frontrunner in the line-up, it was not surprising to see none of them keen to show the way in the first furlong, until Justice World (Michael Rodd), came across to assume the role.

    Once in front, Rodd slammed on the brakes with the knock-on effect being a few like Power Play and Smart Lad (Wong Chin Chuen) starting to overrace. Perfect P ($44) was on the other hand right on the leader’s hammer, content to stride along until he came off the back when Vorster started to niggle at him.

    Straightaway, Perfect P inched forward onto the girth of Justice World while Titanium also had a cosy run in the box-seat and was expected to launch once he finds a gap at the top of the straight.

    But the $14 favourite stayed flat-footed when Perfect P swept past the weakening Justice World and went for broke while Power Play in contrast had to nudge his way past a very sticky Smart Lad before coursing three wide across the track to set sail after his stablemate.

    The two Shaw “PPs” locked horns inside the last 200m but it was Perfect P who never shirked the fight to prevail by a head from a slightly unlucky Power Play.

    Vorster said that first run he took on Power Play was crucial but he also had to dig deep into his bag of tricks to chalk up the win.

    “He was looking around a bit in the last two and I switched the whip to the left just to change things up. He changed legs and fought on very well,” said the South African jockey.

    “We wanted to ride him handy as he’s such a long-striding type of horse. In the straight, he was always in front and was never going to get beaten.”

    Perfect P is a four-year-old by Perfectperformance and came to Singapore a two-time winner at San Isidro (1600m and 2000m) when known as Holy Ghost. Now raced by the Purpetch Racing Stable, Perfect P has already brought up stakes money close to the $90,000 mark.

    One person who was disappointed after the race was Brown, at a loss to explain Titanium's lacklustre run. The Michael Freedman-trained galloper ran last.

    "He had every chance but he just didn't quicken. It's two bad runs from him now," said Brown in reference to his last start when he was soundly beaten by Stepitup in the Group 3 Yew Tee Classic Stakes (1800m).

    "Maybe the track was too firm today, but it's still no excuse."

    The day got even better later for Shaw when Super Joe (Juglall) came from the clouds to land the $38,000 Kranji Stakes D race over 1800m in style.

    "I tried to ride him on the pace, but he wouldn't go. Luckily, he had a clear run in the home straight and his strong finish did the rest," said Juglall.


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    Kai Powers home in style


    Kai Powers home in style
    16/08/2015
    Kai Power went one better over his last start with a late burst to win the $60,000 Class 4 race (1800m) on Sunday.
    The Brian Dean-trained galloper came into the race having saluted over this trip before. In last year’s October 31 Open Benchmark 67 race, he had pipped Dark Pulse (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) to the post in a deadheat finish.
    Kai Power had a good chance to repeat that performance at his last start, when he came from the back to steam past the entire field bar the leader Power Play (Nooresh Juglall) down the straight, only to find the post arriving too soon and he could only hit the line two-and-three-quarter lengths behind the winner to finish second.


    Kai Power (Razali Zawari) races off to a convincing victory in Race 3 on Sunday.


    “At his last start the leader was given a soft run,” said Dean.
    “The horse is the sort that comes from behind and doesn’t like horses outside of him.
    “I bought him as a stayer and he’s a horse that definitely can stay.”
    Kai Power ($29), with Zawari Razali astride, jumped well but took up his customary position at the rear of the pack as Free Happy (Ng Choon Kiat) and Bob (Michael Rodd) set off a searing pace to lead the way.
    At the top of the straight, Kai Power was taken out wide to give him galloping space to launch a challenge on the leading duo, who were looking decidedly vulnerable as the entire field closed in on them. As the final furlong approached, Kai Power found an additional gear to pull clear of the rest, gobbling up the ground with every stride as he crossed the line unopposed.
    Irish Rebel (Manoel Nunes), who also took the outside route, was two-and-three-quarter lengths behind in second place. Bob came in third a further three-parts-of-a-length away.
    The $17 race favourite Eclipse Dancer was hemmed to the fence for his entire run and could only make it to the line in eighth place.
    “The boss told me the horse’s last 400m is very good and I must push,” said Zawari.
    “I think this distance is his best.”
    When quizzed about loftier targets in the Bramshaw six-year-old’s horizon, Dean was pragmatic about the gelding’s ability.
    “He must win his next two to three races to prove his worth before I will consider him for the Gold Cup,” said the Australian-born conditioner.
    “He ticks all the boxes but personally I think he might not be up to the ability.”
    With this win, Kai Power has brought stakes earnings earned at Kranji to just under the $150,000 mark for the Dean Stable and their connections.

    Dean went on to saddle a training double three races later in the $35,000 Class 5 race over 1600m with $148 longshot Street Champ storming home late to grab the win right on the line.

    Previously prepared by trainer Shane Baertschiger, the US-bred son of Street Hero, who was at only his second career win for the Numero Uno Racing Stable, turned out to be a winning pick-up ride for champion apprentice jockey A'Isisuhairi after Erasmus Alsam was stood down.

    "I'm very happy for Eric. This horse ran quite well two runs back when he finished only four lengths off the winner," said Dean.

    "Too bad for Aslam. I thought of getting Zuriman (Zulkifli) first but he had left the racecourse and Harry happened to walk by!"

    Having scored earlier aboard Moritz Eclipse ($20) in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden Division 1 race over 1200m, A'Isisuhairi was at the double to consolidate his second place (18 wins), but still some distance away from leader Shafiq Rizuan (33 wins).


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    Groenewegen kicks an easy goal


    Groenewegen kicks an easy goal
    16/08/2015
    Groenewegen may be a name that means little in Singapore, not to mention hard to pronounce, but he sure made a few friends among the punters with a scintillating win second-up in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden Division 2 race over 1200m on Sunday.

    If names given to horses bore any significance to their namesake, trainer Cliff Brown jokingly said the Commands colt was one apple which did not fall too far from the tree.

    “He’s named after a famous Footscray Australian Football League (AFL) player called Robert Groenewegen who was a bit mad,” said the Australian trainer, a die-hard Geelong Cats fan himself.


    Groenewegen (Michael Rodd) careers away to an easy win on Sunday.

    “You can say this horse was a bit above himself at his first race as well, but it’s okay as he was new and is still a colt. But he’s improved a lot since and he was a lot better behaved today.

    “He definitely has a bright future here. He won very well today and I’m very pleased with that.”

    Raced by the Dish & Dime Stable, Groenewegen was sent off as the $13 favourite and never gave his backers any anxious moments when he took up the running from his good gate, though the next best-backed horse, Michael Freedman’s newcomer Magnum did breathe down his neck for the major part of the race.

    But once Groenewegen cornered and he put a space of two lengths on the chasing pack, the issue was quickly put beyond doubt. Magnum did come within a length and a half at one stage but once Rodd went all out, the race was over.

    Groenewegen romped in by just under four lengths from Magnum, who also showed signs of greenness in the home straight but will definitely prove a useful sort for his connections, with Scimitar (John Powell) third another three lengths away. The winning time was 1min 11.28secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.

    “He’s a good galloper and felt like a real racehorse throughout, though he’s still a big baby,” said Rodd.

    “I actually wanted him to follow another horse just to give him some cover and teach him to settle, but at the half-mile there was no-one and we stayed in front.

    “At the 600m, I gave him a squeeze and he quickened up really well and got away from them. He was looking around a fair bit, though, but he was just too good in the end.”


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    Joseph See on a roll as he earns Asian Young Guns Challenge nod to represent Singapor


    Joseph See on a roll as he earns Asian Young Guns Challenge nod to represent Singapore
    16/08/2015
    Things are going really swimmingly for in-form apprentice jockey Joseph See, who celebrated his recent selection to represent Singapore at an apprentice series with yet another victory on Sunday.

    The Perth-trained rider flies to Korea on August 26 to ride at the 7th Asian Young Guns Challenge to be held this year in Seoul, incidentally one day before the running of the Group 3 Asia Challenge Cup (1200m), where three Singapore horses namely El Padrino, Happy Money and Valevole will also compete.

    See will therefore join Team Singapore at that international weekend in Seoul, where he will ride in four races on the sand track against some of the best young jockeys from the Asia-Pacific-Africa region, including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa, Malaysia, Mauritius and of course the host country, Korea.


    Dragon Walk (Joseph See) tears away from the rest to win Race 1 on Sunday.

    See, who has been riding in great form since returning from a head injury earlier in the year, was looking forward to his first overseas experience outside of Perth where he was trained and Malaysia, and said he would try his best to do Singapore proud.
    “I’m really honoured I’ve been chosen to represent Singapore at the Asian Young Guns Challenge this year,” said See who currently sits fifth on the apprentice premiership on 12 winners after his Sunday victory on the Alwin Tan-trained Dragon Walk in the $35,000 Class 5 race over 1100m, a third of runaway leader Shafiq’s score.
    “I would like to thank the Singapore Turf Club and the Stewards for the opportunity. This is the first time I will ride overseas, other than Perth where I did my apprenticeship and Malaysia.

    “Hopefully I get good rides, but no matter what, I will try my best for Singapore.”

    First launched in 2009 at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, the Asian Young Guns Challenge was the brainchild of Victoria Racing Club in collaboration with their Asian racing counterparts, which have now grown to include jurisdictions from Africa as well. The series is primarily designed as a cultural exchange to provide young emerging jockeys in those regions a platform to pit their skills against each other and gain international exposure.

    See joins seven Kranji apprentices before him to have taken part namely, Mark Ewe (2009 Melbourne, 2010 Singapore), the late Jacky Low (2009 Melbourne), Koh Teck Huat (2010 Singapore), Shafiq Rizuan (2011 Melbourne), Zawari Razali (2012 Macau), A’Isisuhairi Kasim (2013 New Zealand) and Noh Senari (2014 South Africa), with A’Isisuhairi the only one to have claimed the title.
    The four races vary in distance from 1000 to 1400 metres and rides are balloted. Points are awarded in each race to all riders finishing from first through to eighth, with the jockey accruing the highest points in the four races declared the winner.
    In case of a tie, the winner will be the one with the most placings.
    See leaves Singapore on August 26 and will therefore miss the Kranji meetings on August 28 and 30, but he certainly did not let one of his book of six rides on Sunday go begging.
    Following a smart jump from Dragon Walk ($64), See was able to secure the lead and control the pace to a nicety but their stay at the top looked in jeopardy when favourite Tim (Michael Rodd) came off his box seat to collar Dragon Walk at the 300m.
    Tim even headed Dragon Walk but under See’s urgings, the latter found a second wind and gathered in his challenger to regain the lead which he did not relinquish inside the last 100m to rally home a convincing 1 ¾-length winner from Tim.
    Dragon Walk’s stablemate Volkov (Saifudin Ismail) ran third another half-length away. The winning time was 1min 6.13secs.
    “His form had been pretty average but he had a low weight and in a very weak field he was able to win,” said Tan.
    “Joseph rated him very well in front. My other horse (Volkov) also ran well with a third place.”
    Dragon Walk, a five-year-old by Mudawaajid, has now brought up his record to two wins from 37 starts for stakes earnings close to the $105,000 mark for the Green Leaf Stable.


 

 

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