Freedman backs Iskandar with nod on Blizzard

Fortune Bowl winner Blizzard (No 12) will be ridden by apprentice jockey Iskandar Rosman this Sunday.
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By Michael Lee – Singapore Turf Club

Champion trainer Lee Freedman has given his budding apprentice jockey Iskandar Rosman the ultimate vote of confidence after he booked him aboard Group 3 winner Blizzard in Sunday’s $100,000 Class 1 race over 1400m.

Freedman actually gang-tackles the race with a big team of four runners, with the Hong Kong-owned and recent Group 3 Fortune Bowl (1400m) winner Blizzard clearly the top pick.

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While the choice of the Malaysian four-kilo claimer may surprise in a race that features top guns like Debt Collector, Jupiter Gold and Countofmontecristo, the Australian Hall of Fame trainer is happy with his decision.

He couldn’t have used last-start winning partner Daniel Moor anyway as the Australian rider is currently serving a ban for three separates charges of careless riding until March 29.

“I’ve put Iskandar on Blizzard, mainly for the claim – from 55kgs to 51kgs only. The owner was absolutely fine with it,” he said.

“He’s improved a lot lately and is really hungry these days. He’s third on the apprentice log with three winners.

“He’s a good boy, works hard and listens. He deserves to be given that kind of opportunity.”

The other Hong Konger, Circuit Land, who at 114 points is three kilos better than Blizzard, is also in the mix but Freedman explained there is a bit of a fitness cloud over last year’s Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) winner. He will be ridden by Vlad Duric.

“Circuit Land went off the boil a few weeks ago, and was being aimed at the Chairman’s Trophy,” he said.

“It’s a good thing that race was postponed (from March 3 to April 7) because he wouldn’t have made it.

“Only Blizzard would have run, but they’re both being set for the new Chairman’s Trophy on April 7 after Sunday’s Class 1 race.”

The other two horses Freedman saddles are the Oscar Racing Stable duo of Affleck and Mr Clint.

The top half of the quartet arguably has an edge on the bottom half. Blizzard’s and Circuit Land’s most recent runs make better appeal than those of Affleck and Mr Clint, who have slipped down the ratings, and are weighted at the minimum on 50kgs.

Besides, the form has tapered off right out for Affleck while Mr Clint needs more ground, but Freedman said that all four are in good nick and cautioned not to rule out any one of them.

“They’re all good, and have been training very well,” said Freedman.

“Affleck has had no luck at the weights. In the Fortune Bowl, he had to carry 58kgs because he is a Group 1 winner.

“He carries only 50kgs this time. Whichever chance he may have is enhanced by that light weight.

“I haven’t booked a rider for him yet. Ben Thompson will ride Mr Clint, who is not a 1400m horse, but will still run well with the right run.

“He is going for the Derby.”

The Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) used to be the third and last Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, but with the discontinuation of the latter, it is run as a standalone feature race on July 21.