Walker keeps rolling out those ‘tried but not quite tested’ Sydney horses

Beau Geste is among one of a few runners trainer Mark Walker bought after tapping into the Sydney market.
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Via Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club

Keeping up a trend that has come under notice in the last 12 months or so, trainer Mark Walker is throwing in another couple of tried horses from Sydney into the Kranji arena this Sunday – Altair and Inherit.

The two-time Singapore champion trainer has been experimenting with the sourcing of lightly-raced horses from the Harbour City of late, with the likes of Beau Geste, Barbeque, Augustus and Barbarian, among the first launches. The first three have already won one race apiece already.

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Traditionally, Walker’s stock hails mainly from his native New Zealand, with yearling sales a popular place to shop from, but with the skyrocketing prices of yearlings in the last couple of years, he had to think out of the box.

He thought of those expensive yearlings bought as stallion prospects, who did not quite cut the mustard, but who could possibly pass muster as racing prospects at Kranji once gelded.

“The yearling prices have become extraordinarily high and out of reach. I had to change tack and source horses at more competitive market prices” he said.

“The best form has been the Sydney form, and I’ve been targeting those expensive yearlings but who didn’t quite make it as stallions.

“The owners hoped they could cut their losses by gelding them, and hopefully they measure up. Somehow, after gelding, they grow a leg, and hold their own at Class 3 level, and the owners get their investments back.

“I’ve been targeting those lightly-raced horses for a while. Beau Geste, Barbeque, Augustus and Barbarian are some of them, and they were all for different owners.

“This Sunday, two more will run Altair ($50,000 Class 4 race over 1100m) and Inherit ($50,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over 1200m).

“Altair was a A$550,000 yearling, but didn’t make it as a colt as he was temperamental. He is the more forward between the two while Inherit is more of a staying prospect, the 1200m will be too short.

“Altair won his two barrier trials, but a trial is different from raceday. You don’t know until raceday how they will go.”

Walker has booked Benny Woodworth on Altair, a four-year-old by Zoustar, who was a one-time winner at Canterbury (1550m) in 11 starts when prepared by Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller.

To be ridden by Azhar Ismail, Inherit is a four-year-old by Pierro and was also handled by Waller. In eight starts in New South Wales, he recorded one win on debut at Newscastle in a 1200m race, but was placed once over more ground at his latest outings before being shipped to Singapore.

While such commodities have a more attractive financial appeal to Walker, they still cost a fair penny given the premium of their initial capital costs.

“They cost around $150-170,000 landed, and are also getting expensive,” he said.

“But if they perform, they can become good investments.”