By Michael Lee – Singapore Turf Club
The boom on Bold Thruster just got louder after his valiant win in the $175,000 Group 3 Rocket Man Sprint (1200m) on Sunday.
Amazingly, for a three-year-old who has had only eight starts under the belt, Bold Thruster has already carved out a third Group win notch on his barn door.
After franking that untapped potential he showed at his three-in-a-row last year with a first Group hurrah in the Group 3 Saas Fee Stakes (1200m) in November, followed by a gusty win in the first Leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge, the Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m) four weeks ago, Bold Thruster has clearly reached another level with that latest triumph.
Not many would argue there is more gloss to a win that comes at the expense of seasoned sprinters like two-time Singapore champion sprinter Lim’s Cruiser, Zac Kasa and Mister Yeoh, even if some rare knockers may argue he was in receipt of seven kilos from Lim’s Cruiser.
Granted, that pull in weights helped bail him out of certain defeat, when after taking up his customary leading role, the $14 favourite flattened to the line hard up against the rails, but to his fans’ dismay, Mister Yeoh (Daniel Moor) and Lim’s Cruiser (Troy See) came collaring him in a line of three at the 400m – and even edged past.
Not many horses can boast the ability to reel those two horses back in when they are in front, especially after he had to endure the pesky presence of Super Winner (Koh Teck Huat) in the first half of the race, but Bold Thruster is made of another metal. He rose to the occasion with aplomb.
Reunited with lightweight jockey Barend Vorster (winning partner at four of his previous five wins), who flew in from his new Adelaide base for that special 50-kilo ride, Bold Thruster mustered up all his class and courage to turn the tide on his two challengers in a three-way battle royale that may go down as one of the most unforgettable racing moments seen at Kranji.
Hard ridden by Vorster in his trademark energetic style, Bold Thruster poked his head back in front before relentlessly regaining the ascendancy to go and salute by half-a-length from Lim’s Cruiser. A fighting Mister Yeoh hung on for third place another short head away.
Clocking a smart time of 1min 8.71secs for the 1200m on the Long Course, Bold Thruster has now taken his handy record to six wins and one second from eight starts for prizemoney closing in on the $450,000 mark for the Tivic Stable.
Trainer Shane Baertschiger admitted to seeing himself walking to the third-placed stall at best when Bold Thruster was headed. He had written off his black gelding’s sheer grit too soon.
“He took the knock off his last run (3YO Sprint). He was not 100% and we had only two weeks to go,” said the Australian handler.
“But he came good in the last 1 ½ weeks. I was still worried about the second-up syndrome after rest.
“It was a great effort. I actually thought he was down, but to his credit, he fought back.
“He broke 1min 9secs again. He’ll now go to the Lion City Cup and will meet Mister Yeoh again, but better off at the weights.
“He’s the first live chance I’ve ever had at winning a Group 1 race. I will also have Aramco in the race.”
Regarded as Singapore’s premier sprint race, the $800,000 Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) will be run under weight-for-age conditions on May 25.
Vorster will, however, have to give way to stable jockey John Powell, as confirmed by Baertschiger after the Rocket Man Sprint win.
“Barend was brought in for the light weight. He rode him a treat again today, but it’s JP who will ride him in the Lion City Cup,” said Baertschiger.
“JP does all the hard yards on this horse. He will carry 55.5kgs as he’s three and JP can make that weight.”
If filling in for the lightweight rides has translated into five wins, including two at Group level, Vorster will certainly not complain about being just the deputy.
“It was such a courageous win. We got to the front and he settled so beautifully for me,” said the pocket dynamo from South Africa, who has quickly established himself as a leading rider in Adelaide since March.
“I did get some unnecessary pressure from another horse (Super Winner) and that’s why I had to let him slide just a little.
“When they levelled up at the 400m, you know he’s in for the fight when he’s got his ears pricked. He gave another kick, and when I gave it to him, he fought back and put half-a-length on them.
“This win is even more special as I had left and came back. I have to thank the owner and Shane for putting me back on Bold Thruster.
“But I don’t want this to be my grand final. I hope there’ll be more.”
Vorster, who, aptly, was also one of Rocket Man’s regular partners, actually went on to snare a race-to-race double in the next race, aboard the Steven Burridge-trained Glasgow ($42) in the $70,000 Nandowra Stakes, a Class 3 race over 1400m.