By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
The Barree Stable colours flew high for the second year running in the Singapore Golden Horseshoe (1200m) when Boomba came with a grinding run to claim top prize right on the line.
Last year, the Australian outfit headed by Glenn Whittenbury were successful with their stable superstar Inferno, even if the two-year-old feature race was then staged as the culmination of a five-race series sponsored by Aushorse.
As it has been across the board on the racing calendar, COVID-19 has turned the juvenile series upside down this year – no lead-up races (Legs), only one race and downgraded from Group 2 to Group 3 with prizemoney halved to $125,000, and probably the most significant change and a bit of an anachronism, it’s open to three-year-olds given its late date of December (instead of July).
While Inferno is indisputably from another stratosphere, his new stablemate Boomba (both are trained by Cliff Brown) fully deserved his own moment in the sun, albeit from a watered-down version of the Golden Horseshoe.
The son of Showcasing is certainly not without budding qualities, boasting one win on debut (Restricted Maiden race over 1200m) and a last-start third in a Novice race (1200m), but his barrier No 13 raised some concerns in a wide-open race where no standouts jumped out of the paper.
Regular partner Ruan Maia, however, rode Boomba like he was the best horse in the race, parking him behind the leading trio in a three-wide position, punching the wind outside stablemate Golden Way (A’Isisuhairi Kasim), but seemingly galloping comfortably within his own steam.
Any doubts whether the New Zealand-bred had any petrol left in the tank was quickly answered when he was clicked up for the moment of truth.
Infinite Wisdom (Vlad Duric) was first to throw down the gauntlet when he collared leader Ablest Ascend (Louis-Philippe Beuzelin) and looked to be holding sway, but Boomba was hot on his heels.
At the 200m, the two well-backed “babies” were running away from the weakening Ablest Ascend, with Infinite Wisdom in front and Boomba steadfastly wearing him down.
The pink and white Barree silks were in hot contention for a second hurrah, even if it was definitely not in the same mould as Inferno’s dominant romp from last year, not to mention a late intrigue was thrown into the mix when an orange flash burst onto the scene.
After wedging his way through a needlehole passage, the Arexevan Stable-owned Relentless (Marc Lerner) was sailing home at the rate of knots, and for a split second, gave the impression he could finish over the top of the fighting duo, but despite Lerner’s desperate urgings, Tim Fitzsimmons’ runner got to the wire too late.
In a thrilling three-way go, Boomba lunged at the post to down Infinite Wisdom by a short head while Relentless had to settle for third place, another neck away.
Favourite Lim’s Straight (Tengku Rehaizat) had every chance after settling nicely tucked away in the box-seat, but did not reproduce the same dash as at his impressive winning debut. He stayed one-paced to run a disappointing ninth.
Sent out at $25, Boomba ran the 1200m on the Short Course in 1min 10.9secs.
Not only did the gutsy win conjure up echoes of last year’s win for Brown and Barree, but it also served as the perfect appetiser to their main course next Sunday, Inferno’s daring raid in the HK$22 million Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
With Brown and racing manager Chris Bock already in Hong Kong to oversee their champion’s preparation, it was left to assistant-trainer slash senior track rider Tony Lane to give the debrief on Boomba’s pulsating win back home.
“Boomba is still immature and can only improve further, but he showed a great fighting spirit today,” said Lane.
“There were no specific instructions from Cliff, he told Maia to just ride him where he was comfortable. If they go quick, the plan was to try and get in behind as he has natural speed, too, and it’s worked out well.
“He’s not in the same league as Inferno, that’s for sure, but he’s done very well for us. It’s up to Cliff to decide what he would like to plan for him now.”
Lane has stayed in touch with the Australian handler since he landed in Hong Kong with Inferno on Friday.
“Cliff and Chris had to serve a 24-hour quarantine. The horse travelled well and came out for a trot this morning,” said the Queenslander.
“By all accounts he seems to have settled in very well. We’ll see how he comes along in the next few days.”
Maia for one was delighted he had notched a third ‘black type’ race, even if a Group 3 race may not carry the same hype as the Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) and Group 1 Raffles Cup (1600m), both captured with Aramaayo.
“I’ve always believed in this horse. I’ve ridden him from his first trial,” said the Brazilian jockey.
“He has really improved a lot and I was confident he would run well today even if I was scared of the barrier.
“But I know he has good gate speed and he jumped very well. I wanted him to travel near the leaders today.
“At his last start, I waited for the last 200m but he was a bit flat and ran third. I was closer this time, and waited a bit longer, and it worked out better.”
With an earlier win aboard Eunos Ave Three, Maia was ringing up a double which has enabled him to chip away two precious wins from leader Vlad Duric’s nine-win lead, reigniting a small hope he can still catch the three-time Singapore champion jockey (who came home empty-handed on Saturday) with three race meetings remaining in the Singapore season.
The leaderboard now stands as Duric on 63 winners with Maia trailing by seven winners on 56.
With that second win from four starts, Boomba has taken his stakes earnings past the $110,000 mark for the Barree Stable.