By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Former Godophin galloper Aramaayo lived up to his Australian reputation with a hard-fought first local win in the $85,000 RDA Cup 2020, a Class 2 race over 1400m on Sunday.
The former James Cummings-trained two-time Sydney winner, including one in the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1600m) in Newcastle (when known as Aramayo), put the writing on the wall with two seconds for new handler Shane Baertschiger at his new Kranji home at the tailend of last season.
The same trip was picked first-up, but there were still some concerns it would still be on the sharp side. The Poet’s Voice four-year-old is more of a miler and had been bought with the third Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, the Singapore Derby (1800m) as his main objective.
Ironically, it turned out he would have probably been beaten had the race been one inch longer on Sunday, but Baertschiger later divulged it was probably because he got used up by sitting too close to the pace.
Short-priced favourite Top Knight (Vlad Duric), who is likely to be a formidable foe again in the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, was winding up with a powerful launch on the outside, while Aramaayo (Simon Kok Wei Hoong, $23) was hankering for the line after hitting the front early at the 300m.
The two main picks lunged at the line locked as one. Unless you had laser-like vision, it was a tough call to make, although the advantage tends to swing towards the horse on the outside (Top Knight in this case), but when the photo print came up, Aramaayo had clinched his local account-opener by the barest of margins – a nose.
After stalking race-leader Destroyer Eclipse (Juan Paul van der Merwe), Tesoro Privado (John Sundradas) stuck on gamely to run a creditable third another length away. The winning time was 1min 22.88secs for the 1400m on the Long Course.
Baertschiger said Aramaayo was ridden a little upside down, but the bottom line was he got the job done.
“He ran well at his first two starts and had excuses,” said the Australian trainer.
“Today he gave weight off Top Knight, but he is better ridden further back. Simon had no other choice, though. He would be better off two pairs further back.
“The Derby is his main target, but today was his day. He will now go for the first Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge and then progress through the series.
“I’ve already booked Pat Moloney for the ride.”
The first Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old is the Group 3 Silver Bowl (1400m) – which was only introduced last year – on February 29, followed by the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup on March 20 and the grand final, the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) on April 18.
Kok, who can’t do no wrong these days, said he could not tell if he had gained the verdict, but either way, he had nothing but words of praise for the horse that belongs to the same connections as the newly-crowned Singapore champion sprinter Aramco.
“I’m grateful to Shane and the owners for putting me on such a nice horse,” said the 2019 Singapore champion apprentice jockey.
“He was a nice three-year-old and is an upcoming four-year-old going through his grades. He gave me a beautiful feeling in the running.
“The pace was on and he chased down the leaders nicely, but he was wandering about a bit. It was close, I was not sure if I won but I was happy to see my number on the board.”
While Aramaayo is still far off the A$333,160 in stakes he made in Australia, that first Kranji victory has bulged his local account past the $80,000 mark for the Aramco Stable