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Champion galloper back on the Warpath
22 Jun 2016

Champion galloper War Affair (O'Reilly x Kristique) has taken another small step closer to his racing comeback after he was recently seen working on the main training tracks at Kranji.


Already beset by injuries that curtailed his 2015 Singapore Triple Crown series campaign last prep, the 2014 Singapore Horse of the Year was coming along nice and steady towards his much-awaited reappearance since his second to Quechua in last July’s Emirates Singapore Derby, but his new handler Bruce Marsh suddenly made the decision to spell him for two months after he felt he was not 100% back in January.


That new setback also meant a first overseas tilt at the Group 1 US$6 million Dubai Turf (1800m) during the Dubai World Cup meeting on March 26 had to be scrapped.

Marsh, who has yet to saddle the former Alwin Tan-trained multiple Group 1 winner in a race for the Ong family, was obviously disappointed, but five months on, was glad he had opted to put him away.


“He’s come back in great shape after we backed him off. That break has done him a world of good,” said the Kiwi handler.


“We brought him back in work about six weeks ago, and started off with mostly slow uphill work. It’s only recently that he’s come back on the main training tracks.


“He’s started doing pacework and is coming along nicely. He’s loving it!”


Condition-wise, Marsh said the O’Reilly five-year-old’s extra pounds don’t actually reflect a lack of fitness.


“He’s always been a big boy, and he’s about 30kg up, which is normal as it’s been 12 months since he raced,” he said.


“But I would say it’s not fat. He’s just kept growing and it’s all good muscular mass.”

Marsh said he had not exactly mapped out a path for the 14-time winner (including five at Group 1 level) and $2.8 million stakes earner, but is hoping for a September comeback.


“I haven’t quite looked through the programme, but on the way he is progressing, I would say he would be back in September,” he said.


“A race like the Jumbo Jet Trophy is an option but it’s too early to tell. We’ll play it by ear.”


The Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy is a weight-for-age race over 1400m and will be run on September 4.

Marsh added he had not yet decided who would be War Affair’s new rider. Jockey Michael Rodd was the new partner who took over from Alan Munro before the break, but the Australian rider is currently nursing an ankle injury while the jockey’s room has also welcomed many new faces in recent months. -STC