Via Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Trainer Mok Zhan Lun made a big call after he branded River Radiance as one of the best horses he has ever trained following the Polytrack specialist’s sixth win on the alternative track at Kranji on Sunday.
The Australian-trained Singaporean conditioner, who has been plying his trade at Kranji since 2010, has never helmed large strings of horses, with handy sorts only popping up on the odd occasion.
Without a doubt, 2011 Polytrack champion Dr Grigoros is about the only horse who put the former foreign exchange banker’s name up in lights. While the soft-spoken handler would not put River Radiance in the same breath yet, he certainly threw in a few more superlatives than he usually does on his winners after the New Zealand-bred four-year-old by Rip Van Winkle came up trumps in the $70,000 Class 3 race over 1100m.
“He’s a really nice horse, probably one of the best I’ve trained at Kranji. Dr Grigoros was also a good horse I trained, but we can’t compare them yet,” he said.
“I purchased River Radiance as a yearling at Karaka. Mr Ho Pui Kim has been a big supporter of mine for a while, and I’m glad he bought him.
“This horse has matured nicely. He knows what he’s doing now, he’s a real racehorse.
“As a young horse, he used to pull a lot and couldn’t relax. After much training, he is a lot more settled now.”
Michael Rodd has now partnered River Radiance to two of his four wins from only six starts. The Australian jockey praised Mok for his patient handling, and predicted that one-dimensional side on Polytrack would not last long.
“He was not easy to handle at first. ZL Mok has done a good job with him,” he said.
“His record on Polytrack has always been good, but he’s also a lot more tractable now.
“He was a bit slow out of the gates, but he mustered, and after that, I just wanted to keep him out of trouble and give him a pain-free run. Coming back from 1200m, he did feel like he had enough momentum to sustain a run in the last 600m.
“When I saw the favourite (Autumn Assault) in strife at the 600m, my confidence went up. I know the horse in front of me (Ararat Lady) and we had to run her down.
“I know I had to get past the boss (his main supporter Cliff Brown trains Ararat Lady), but my horse was too good.
“Nothing was going to get past him. He’s a good Poly horse now, but I think next year, he can go on turf.”
Pigeon-holed as a Polytrack horse – for now – River Radiance has, however, showed his versatility in his racing pattern. While he won his first race (with Rodd up) from the front, his last three wins have been conjured up from a midfield spot.
Upon straightening, Ararat Lady (Ben Thompson) had swept past fading leader Super Posh (Nizar Mohammad) and looked all poised to greet the judge.
Odds-on favourite Autumn Assault (Benny Woodworth) was trying to take the shortcuts home after a rails-hugging run throughout, but the warning signs went into red alert after he was not seen quickening the same way he did at his stunning first-up record-breaking heroics (1100m) four weeks ago.
But slicing through the pack down the middle, however, a big white hood was irrepressibly making inroads – it was River Radiance ($15) in his trademark earmuffs. Ararat Lady dug deep, but she was overpowered by River Radiance who went on to win as he pleased with two and a half lengths to spare.
Ararat Lady held on valiantly to her runner-up spot, half-a-length ahead of Autumn Assault, who only pinged when it was all over.
River Radiance clocked a decent time of 1min 4.46secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack, 0.49 second outside Autumn Assault’s.
Rodd took out the jockeys’ challenge after making it a hat-trick of wins in the last race with Brown’s debutant Pax Animi ($20) in the $50,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over 1200m. The first Leg of the treble came courtesy of Whistle Grand ($19) for trainer Leslie Khoo in the $20,000 Open Maiden race over 1400m.