Trainer Steven Burridge has a good chance of making Sunday’s last two races his own with his strong hand of last-start winners Autumn Assault (pictured left) and Kimitonara, even if both face a bigger ask in tougher class.
Back to his brilliant best at his first start for the Australian handler since transferring from trainer David Kok, Autumn Assault is stepping out over the same course and distance of 1100m on Polytrack in the penultimate race worth $70,000, but the Rock ‘N’ Pop four-year-old is also rising in grade to Class 3 company this time.
Less exposed than his stablemate, Kimitonara has nonetheless already showed untapped potential from the way he fought back bravely at his second start to defeat Supermax in a Restricted Maiden race over 1200m. The Star Witness three-year-old is this time engaged in a more challenging contest in the $50,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over 1200m, the last of the 10-race programme.
Interestingly, the two horses handed both Burridge and his star apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong a race-to-race double on that day (October 18), but both will this time be partnered by Benny Woodworth with Kok currently serving two consecutive careless riding suspensions, the second one ironically incurred from his winning ride on Kimitonara.
The switch in riders is certainly not an issue. Besides knowing Autumn Assault inside out for having steered him to his previous two wins when still under Kok’s care, Woodworth has been in flying form this season.
The long-standing Malayan Racing Association jockey has issued a serious challenge on Vlad Duric’s third consecutive title bid until a three-day suspension for careless riding aboard Sacred Croix in Sunday’s Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) has all but ended his hopes given the lead now stands at 12 wins with only four meetings (after deducting three days of suspension) left for him to close the gap.
“I’m happy with both horses. They have both come through their last runs very well, and I expect both of them to run well,” said Burridge.
“I’ve given them time to recover and they will both be up in grade and at the same time down in the weights. I’ve also stepped them up in their work.
“The trick to Autumn Assault is to keep him sound. He was in good shape when he came to us from David, but he needed knee surgery for his knee chips shortly after.
“As Simon is suspended, the owners were happy to have Benny back on and it was the same for Kimitonara. As he’s got only 54kgs, we can’t put Michael Rodd on, so we were happy to put Benny on.
“Simon Dunderdale (trainer) had him with a couple of people in Kuala Lumpur and wanted to send him up as a young horse for the 2YO series, but couldn’t make it.
“He’s improved from his last run and I think he’ll run well again. The wide draw (eight) is not a worry, he’s a young horse, still a bit green, but he’ll improve from the experience.”