By Michael Lee – Singapore Turf Club
Singapore champion trainer Lee Freedman pulled off the remarkable feat of getting his entire team of three runners onto the scoreboard on Easter Sunday.
Off to a relatively quiet start this season, the Australian Hall of Fame trainer has shot from 11th spot on the log to seventh in one fell swoop thanks to his big haul that took his 2019 score to 12 winners.
The purple patch of form began with Super Dynasty in Race 3 before he doubled up with Crouching Sun two races later (see previous report). The 100% strike rate was clearly within the realms of possibility with the last of his trio, last-start winner Circuit Mission, well in the market at $15 in the $70,000 Class 3 race over 1600m.
As luck would have it, the perfect day was sealed, but after a few heart-pounding moments. When favourite Wolf Warrior (Michael Rodd) drew upsides at the 250m, Circuit Mission (Callan Murray) seemed to be capitulating.
Wolf Warrior took a head advantage, but that move somehow spurred Circuit Mission back into another gear – as is commonly seen in horse racing.
Picking himself off the canvas, the Hong Kong-owned Irish-bred four-year-old son of High Chaparral dug deep on the inside to draw on level terms with Wolf Warrior.
In a stirring stoush to the wire, the duo finished locked together on the line. The judge called for the photo which showed it had swung Circuit Mission’s way by a nose.
Freedman was going home with the contented smile of someone who had not tasted defeat the whole day, but admitted that he wished it was achieved with much less trepidation.
“Circuit Mission is a work in progress, but one thing I’d like to see him improve in is not to win by giving me a heart attack again,” he said jokingly.
“He is not the finished goods yet, but he still showed a lot of fight against the heavily-backed horse (Wolf Warrior).
“There was a good strong pace set by Shane’s (Baertschiger) horse (Yulong Edition). He settled a lot better.
“I’ve had a few High Chaparrals in Australia, and I saw what I would like to see him do when he attacked the line.
“He idled when he got to the front. He’s done this before, but he will keep improving.”
Murray confirmed that Circuit Mission was a “thinker” but once Wolf Warrior went past him, it got his juices flowing again.
“He’s a bit of a thinker. He thought he had won the race,” said the South African jockey.
“Taking the blinkers off probably helped him settle a lot better today. There was a nice tempo to the race.
“I probably hit the front too early to my liking, but when Michael’s horse joined me early, he had a horse to run at.”
A two-time winner in England (Newcastle over 1200m and Ascot over 1400m in 2017) when known as Curiosity and prepared by Newmarket trainer Hugo Palmer, Circuit Mission has now taken his local record to two wins and one third from four starts for prizemoney closing in on the $90,000 mark for Hong Kong owner Ngo Tai Tak.
Circuit Mission is also among the 17 local nominations for the $1.5 million Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) on May 25.