‘That one’s for you, Paula” as emotional Logan bids farewell to best friend

Qiji Acheeva (A'Isisuhairi Kasim) fends off Water Rocket (Michael Rodd) to land his first win.

Via Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club

Racing took a backseat for trainer Donna Logan on Friday night even after she picked up another win with Qiji Acheeva in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1200m.

The Kiwi handler lost her best friend Paula Lee Davies on Tuesday. Not only was she understandably devastated, but she also had to wrestle all week with the heart-wrenching decision whether she should fly back to New Zealand for the funeral on Saturday or stay in Singapore.

In the end, it was with a heavy heart that Logan decided she would honour her professional commitments at Kranji. Though the mood was sombre, Logan, who saddles six horses for the night, still made it a point to head down to the winner’s stall where she paid a fitting and emotional tribute to Davies.

“Paula was my best friend, my sister, my partner in crime, my hairdresser, we were inseparable. People called us ‘Double Trouble’ when they saw us together,” said Logan as tears welled up her eyes.

“I was her maid of honour at her wedding. She was so beautiful, bright pink was her favourite colour, she liked to wear that fluorescent pink bra and it looked so good on her – and that’s why I’ve got pink nails tonight.

“To stay here and not go home for her funeral tomorrow at 11am in Northland, where we are both from, is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make since she died on Tuesday at 6.46pm New Zealand time.

“I’ve sent my written words to be read at the service. But I know Paula would have told me to just keep on keeping on – she sure would have loved a champagne with me tonight.

“Tonight’s win is a tribute to my best friend. Everybody adored her, but she’s gone now, I love you, Paula.”

As harrowing as the last four days have been, Logan was still able to recompose herself and wear her trainer’s hat to give that all-important low-down on her 21st winner for the season, even if it was greeted with a bittersweet taste.

“This horse is a work in progress. I have to thank John Pepe (Singapore Turf Club starter) and Harry (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) for the great job they’ve done on him,” she said.

“He’s a big boy and he knows he’s big. He throws his weight around, but he sure has ability.

“It’s just at the gates that he is a problem. Maybe he’s claustrophobic because of his size or it’s the noise, I’m not sure.

“It was nice to get another barrier trial under his belt from an educational point of view. The blinkers helped him as well, and you can’t take away he’s won tonight.”

A’Isisuhairi, who was also aboard at Qiji Acheeva’s debut third in a Restricted Maiden race over 1200m on July 27, confirmed that the Anacheeva three-year-old is not the easiest of conveyances to steer.

“This horse has been a handful in the gates. He reared a couple of times at his last start, but John Pepe has done a great job with him,” said the Malaysian jockey.

“He’s a lot better now, he stood in the gates more confidently, and it’s good for the owners.

“He drew in two tonight, but it wasn’t the plan to lead, but he showed a bit of speed in his trials.

“He found his feet better on Polytrack. Last time on turf, he kept changing his legs, but he was on the right leg tonight.”

Qiji Acheeva ($15) certainly put his best foot forward from the get-go, leading out from Mister Dynamo (Ben Thompson) before easily shaking off the favourite upon straightening.

Well ridden by A’Isisuhairi, the bold chestnut worked home with great purpose, and with even greater purpose when he was headed by Water Rocket (Michael Rodd) at the 300m, to regain the edge by half-a-length.

Strong N Powerful (Marc Lerner) ran on late for third another two and a half lengths away. The winning time was 1min 12secs for the 1200m on the Polytrack.