Quarter Back storms home for easy win

Quarter Back (Juan Paul van der Merwe) takes out the Class 3 race with a stylish win.

By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club

Quarter Back bounced back from an unlucky run at his last start to record a pulsating win in the $70,000 Class 3 race over 1400m on Saturday.

The Japanese-bred six-year-old by Empire Maker dropped at the rear even after jumping from barrier one, but by the halfway mark, was already smothered in behind the speed, looking all poised to be turned out loose once the gaps come up.

It was precisely the lack of galloping room that cost him the win, and his rider Shafrizal Saleh a one-day suspension when he carelessly found his way out, only to run a luckless second to Savvy Command in a similar race at his last start three weeks ago.

But Juan Paul van der Merwe ensured there was to be no fracas this time even if three horses – Special King (Koh Teck Huat), stablemate Karisto (Louis-Philippe Beuzelin) and Savvy Command (Jerlyn Seow Poh Hui) had walled him in at the 400m.

Once the South African lightweight jockey found some property to his offside, he shifted across heels in that direction, and Quarter Back executed the rest to perfection.

Showing his customary turn of foot, Quarter Back darted to the post a 1 ½-length winner from Savvy Command with Special King digging deep to hold on to a surprising third place another neck away.

Karisto looked the biggest threat among the three leading protagonists at the 300m, but was a bit of a one-batter in the end to finish fourth another short head away, just holding off the fast-finishing Makanani (Joseph See) for the former Raffles Cup winner’s most encouraging effort in a long time.

Winning trainer Michael Clements said that with a clearer run, Quarter Back should have won two races in a row, but will be happy with him exacting revenge on Savvy Command this time round.

“He didn’t have much luck at his last start,” said the Singapore champion trainer.

“He really appreciates coming back down in class and the distance. He was spot-on today.

“He had a good barrier and had the run of the race. JP got him in a good position and there was a lot of space on the outside.

“Last time, he couldn’t come through. He could have won without the traffic problems.”

Van der Merwe doesn’t ride often for Clements even if his first Kranji winner came aboard Loving You for the Zimbabwean-born mentor in 2019. He has since added another five, including two on Pattaya, and a dominant win on Tuesday earlier in the year.

With Shafrizal still suspended (from another careless riding ban on Prodigal), Clements threw van der Merwe a bone, which has turned out to be a winning ride.

“JP won for us a few times, like Tuesday this year,” said Clements.

“He couldn’t have ridden Quarter Back any better.”

With that seventh win, Quarter Back has now brought up close to $350,000 in prizemoney, but the bulk of it for his former Thai owner, the Falcon Racing Stable. Saturday’s win was his first for his new outfit, the Kajorn Petch Racing No 9 Stable, which is also Thai-based.

Author: iRace