War Affair (O'Reilly x Kristique) did not score first-up from a long break on Friday, but while fans were a little down there was to be no fairytale comeback, trainer Bruce Marsh was far from disappointed.
After taking over the 2014 Singapore Horse of the Year from trainer Alwin Tan since November, 2015, the Kiwi handler finally saddled him for his first race.
Marsh had all along treaded with extreme caution before finally picking a comeback race for the 14-time winner. He pulled the pin a couple of times over fitness concerns, until he took the plunge in Friday’s Kranji Stakes A race over 1200m.
Ridden by old partner Danny Beasley, the O’Reilly six-year-old brought up the rear with speedster Lincoln Road (Corey Brown) clapping onto the speed about 12 lengths ahead, slowly but surely working his way into the race.
When Beasley peeled him to the outside at the top of the straight, many hoped that trademark electric turn of foot that saw him upstage the best sprinters of the land in last year’s Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) first-up would again come to the fore, but the sharpness wasn’t quite there this time, though he did pull off some ground to run seventh, only 4 ½ lengths off the winner Wimbledon.
Beasley jumped off with a big thumbs-up, even boldly stating none of the horses who finished ahead of him “would beat him again this prep”. Marsh was a little more conservative, but his wide smile said it all.
“I couldn’t be happier with his run. We knew it was a big ask for him to win first-up over 1200m after more than a year off, but he ran on very well,” said Marsh.
“He’s pulled up great and I’ve already picked his next race, the Kranji Stakes A race over 1400m on September 25.
“He will carry some weight, but he’ll be a lot fitter and the trip will suit him better. If he pulls up good again, then it’s on to the big races later this year.”
Marsh was referring to the Singapore Triple Crown series which kicks off with the Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile (1600m) on October 9, followed by the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1800m) on October 30 and the Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) on November 20. -STC