Via Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Five races after trainer Mark Walker saddled a debut winner from his batch of ex-Sydneysiders, another such specimen named Altair followed suit on Sunday.
By coincidence, both Inherit in the $50,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over 1200m and Altair in the $50,000 Class 4 race over 1100m were prepared by Sydney premier trainer Chris Waller before being acquired by Walker as part of a switch in bloodstock markets towards former expensive yearlings who did not quite deliver at Randwick or Rosehill Gardens.
Kranji certainly proved to be a much more conducive backyard for the two former Wallers.
While Inherit scored a soft win after enjoying a smothered ground-saving run in behind the speed, Altair must have rattled the confidence of those punters who sent him out the even-money favourite after coursing out the widest of the 12 runners.
Caught three wide in no man’s land after breaking from the outermost alley, the Zoustar four-year-old was never in with a chance to tuck in for some cover, but upon straightening, there was only one horse running away from the rest – Altair.
In-form jockey Benny Woodworth gave the former (Sheikh Fahad’s) Qatar Racing-owned galloper a few reminders inside the last furlong, but it was more to go through the motions. The race was already all stitched up by then.
Last-start winner Lincoln Moonlight (John Powell) claimed the battle for the minors two and three-quarter lengths away with Yulong Fast Speed (Syahir Abdul) third another short head away. The winning time was 1min 5.31secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack.
Walker said he was not too concerned when he saw Altair punching the breeze throughout the race as it was a scenario he and Woodworth had been well-prepared for. The New Zealander said the horse was not without qualities, but he was for that first day at the office greatly aided by a sterling ride from a man who can’t do no wrong these days.
“We thought we’d end up three wide but Benny always had him in a nice rhythm,” said Walker.
“Benny can win on a broomstick these days. He’s so full of confidence, he knows his horses.
“He deserves the rewards as he is at the track every day and he works really hard.”
The Malaysian jockey has forged a strong association with the two-time Singapore champion trainer this year, the trigger being arguably their Dester Singapore Gold Cup win with Elite Invincible last November.
Altair may not be in the same league yet, but Woodworth hinted there could be more in the locker from the His Jar-Yi-owned gelding, judging from the ease of that debut win despite covering more ground than the others.
“He’s a very nice horse. He was trapped wide, he hit the front a little too soon and wandered a little, but he was still strong to the line,” said Woodworth who was at his 45th winner to consolidate his third place on the Singapore jockeys’ premiership.
While Woodworth made it a hat-trick of wins at Kranji on Friday, it was Walker’s turn to claim the training honours with a third victor in the penultimate race courtesy of Yulong Edition (Syahir Abdul, $14) in the $50,000 Class 4 race over 1600m.
Having hit win No 60, Walker is well clear in this year’s Singapore trainer’s premiership and should barring incident claim a third title after the ones won in 2015 and 2017. Michael Clements trails by 15 winners in second place