By Michael Lee – Singapore Turf Club
A bold frontrunning ride by budding apprentice jockey Iskandar Rosman brought out the unyielding side of Sydney import Sun Marshal at his first local win on Friday night.
Known as Han Xin when prepared by Sydney premier trainer Gai Waterhouse, Sun Marshal, did boast a handy record with two wins from only nine starts, both, however scored in Victoria – at Ballarat (1600m) and Caulfield (2000m).
He also raced at last year’s Winter Carnival in Brisbane coming up with a second place in the Queensland Derby prelude, the Group 3 Grand Prix (2200m). He, however, ran unplaced in the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2200m), using his favourite leading tactics in both races.
That early staying prowess was not lost when he moved to Singapore last year. The Sepoy four-year-old was placed three times from as many starts (between 1400m and 1600m) at Kranji, before underlining his Singapore Derby credentials once he was risen to the 2000m distance of Friday’s $70,000 Kranji Stakes C race.
The polish from master trainer Lee Freedman was obviously no stranger to the gutsy all-the-way win in relatively strong company.
After a fairly soft lead, Sun Marshal was actually there to be run down once his immediate dangers Mighty Kenny (Krisna Thangamani), Star Jack (Juan Paul van der Merwe) and Black Jade (John Powell) upped the ante upon straightening.
Worn out from their wide trips, Might Kenny and Star Jack were paddling, but Black Jade stuck on. Like a real bulldog, Sun Marshal repelled his challenge very well, but another wave of attack headed by favourite Dicton (Michael Rodd) came testing his mettle.
Under fire, Sun Marshal knuckled down to the task to hold off all comers and prevail by three parts of a length from his fast-closing stablemate Mr Dujardin (Glen Boss) with Black Jade hanging on gamely for third place another head away. The winning time was 2min 2.06secs for the 2000m on the Short Course.
“The plan was for Syafiq (Iskandar’s given name) to go the front. He rated him very well,” said Freedman.
“I wished the Derby could be a 2000m race, but he showed his qualities and his toughness to win a race. He beat a very good field.
“This didn’t look like a Kranji Stakes C race to me. He’s showed to me on tonight’s win he can run the Derby.
“I’m very pleased for the owner (Macau businessman Cheng Ting Kong of Sun Bloodstock). He will have a break and then we’ll think about the Derby.”
Young Iskandar was as usual coy in his post-race commentaries, but the smile was even wider this time.
“I’m happy I won my first race for the boss this year,” said Iskandar who was at his fifth 2019 win to leap to the second place on the Singapore champion apprentice jockey’s ladder, four behind leader Wong Chin Chuen.
“The horse took the lead and showed good pace. I was able to give him a breather mid-race and in the home straight, he kept fighting all the way.”
The much-vaunted Singapore Derby prospect Wonderful Paint (Noh Senari) was never a factor this time. Settled last as is his customary style, the grey was given every chance but was ultimately unable to reproduce his trademark turn of foot in the home straight to run a disappointing eighth.