By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Just watching Kuldeep Singh Rajput and his entourage scream themselves hoarse at Kranji’s first 2021 meeting was a heart-warming scene that convinced Donna Logan even further that she had done the right thing.
It was the Kiwi trainer’s keenness to bring first-time owners into racing coupled with a touch of business acumen that led to handy sprinter Muraahib joining her yard under Rajput’s new colours, the Samurai Stout Racing Stable.
The former Lee Freedman-trained galloper didn’t win the Kranji Stakes A race (1200m), but to Logan, the real winning feeling was to see Rajput going through the whole gamut of emotions that come with owning a racehorse – sooner rather than later.
Some time at the end of last year, Rajput, who is the CEO of a digital health startup, approached Logan to make enquiries about owning a couple of horses. New to the game, he thought he would hit the ground running by buying some new stock from Australia, but Logan tapped into her wealth of experience as both a horsewoman and a public relations expert with owners to nudge him towards a slightly different path.
“Kuldeep is under 30 but is already a successful businessman. He’s not totally green to horse racing as his grandfather used to have 60 horses at some stage and is the one who gave him the interest in horse racing, but he himself is a brand new owner who is at his first involvement in racing in Singapore or anywhere else,” said Logan.
“He approached me to buy a few horses, but I could tell he was an action type of guy, who wants action fast. I had already spoken to one of the leading jockeys in Australia about a trial winner, but then I thought twice about it.
“By the time we get the horse here, get into quarantine, it will cost too much time. As he’s a new client, time is of the essence; he could lose interest before we even started.
“At the same time, Lee was selling some of his horses as he’s leaving soon, as we all know. I heard Muraahib was on the market, and I thought that would be a better alternative for Kuldeep.
“The whole idea is to encourage people to have a horse racing in their name, and for them to live that enjoyable situation, as soon as possible.
“Obviously, Mr Malek (with whom her Makkem Lad dead-heated in March 2020) is the horse we would all like to train, but Muraahib is a good-looking and capable individual, and I thought he represented the best value for a horse of his calibre.”
A three-time winner (1200m to 1400m) for former champion owner Oscar Racing Stable and Freedman, Muraahib was also well-credentialled at his first country of origin in Australia where he scored four times (1050 to 1300m) for leviathan owner Shadwell and trainer David Hayes (now based in Hong Kong), and also ran sixth to Catchy in the 2017 Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m).
Muraahib had his first start for Logan at the first 2021 meeting on January 3 when after being trapped three deep for Oscar Chavez, he eventually plodded on to finish sixth to Surpass Natural, even if some might think he had won going with the loud barracking in his camp at Level 4.
“Kuldeep, his younger brother, his girlfriend and a friend were cheering and chanting ‘Muraahib! Muraahib! Muraahib!’ upstairs. It was a breath of fresh air to see such enthusiasm!” said Logan.
“He named his stable and designed his own colours in a matter of days. Unfortunately, the colours were not ready at Muraahib’s first start (he raced in Logan’s stable colours), but they should be ready soon.”
Logan was told getting Rajput’s new silks in time this Saturday for his new pride and joy (only horse for now) Muraahib’s second start for them in the $85,000 Class 2 race over 1400m may not be all stitched up, but what mattered more to Logan was to see the Reset six-year-old run an improved race.
“He was caught wide and had a lot to do at his first start for us,” said Logan, who has yet to open her 2021 account after two meetings.
“We’re still getting to know him. I think the 1400m will suit him better, and looking at his previous runs, he doesn’t mind it too wet, but we’ll learn more this Saturday.
“I could have put a claimer on, but to give him a bit more of an edge, I’ve decided to stick with (A’Isisuhairi) Harry Kasim who knows him inside out.”
From six rides, the Malaysian jockey has partnered Muraahib to one win (and three placings) which incidentally came in a similar Class 2 race over 1400m on September 5.
That day, the runner-up was another horse of Logan’s, Ironside who, under Logan’s apprentice jockey Yusoff Fadzli, powered home late, pulling stacks of ground off Muraahib (who led all the way) to finish only 1 ¼ lengths astern.
The Jimmy Choux six-year-old eventually won a race (fourth win) in an easier Kranji Stakes C race over the turf mile on December 27 to round out Logan’s 2020 tally at 20 wins and a midtable 12th spot on the ladder.
Ironside will renew rivalry with Muraahib this Saturday, albeit as stablemates this time. Though a five-kilo pull splits the pair, it’s a bit harder to make a case for the gelding, who is owned by a good friend of Logan’s in New Zealand, Lars Pearson.
“Ironside is very well and has no weight (50kgs) on his back which is a huge advantage,” said Logan.
“He handles the wet but he’s back to 1400m after he won over the mile. It may be a little short for him, but if it rains, it may feel like a mile.
“Yusoff will ride him again. It’ll be tougher but you never know – after you leg your jockey up, everything else is then left in the good hands of God.”