Jockey Danny Beasley is not too worried about the big call he made on War Affair (O'Reilly x Kristique) after his comeback run from a long break two weeks ago, confident the champion galloper can back his judgement with an improved run second-up this Sunday.
After his racing return kept getting pushed back a few times, the 2014 Singapore Horse of the Year finally stepped out in a Kranji Stakes A race over 1400m on September 9, 14 months after his last run in the Emirates Singapore Derby (2000m) when a narrow second to Quechua.
Dropped back to the rear by Beasley, the O’Reilly six-year-old gave his legion of fans a fleeting impression that pulverising turn of foot of his was still around when he loomed up at the top of the straight, but unfortunately, he could only plug on for seventh, 4 ½ lengths off the winner Wimbledon.
Beasley, however, could not wipe the big smile off his face when he jumped off.
“He will come on from that first run and this prep, he will beat all these horses who finished in front of him tonight,” he then said.
Maybe it came as a spur-of-the-moment statement, but Beasley had no reason to back down, especially after the pair went on to record a handy barrier trial win last Tuesday.
Beasley and War Affair forged a formidable pair in 2014, a bumper season that saw the Australian jockey cut a swathe at Kranji, mainly thanks to the deeds of not only War Affair but also Laurie Laxon’s former champion juvenile and three-year-old Affleck, who between them supplied him with 11 of the 83 winners that enabled him to finish runner-up to Manoel Nunes, including seven at Group level.
The dynamic duos split when Beasley missed last season in its entirety with some water having also gone under the bridge for the two horses. By the time Beasley came back in 2016, both were trying to pick up where they left off.
“War Affair has really come on since his first run. The 1400m was too short but I was still happy with the way he moved and finished off,” said Beasley.
“I was also very happy with his barrier trial on Tuesday. Bruce has done a great job to bring him to that level.
“The race he will be running in this Sunday is very tough, though. It almost feels like a Group race.
“He’s drawn in two, which is good, and I reckon he will be in the first few this time. I expect him to be running on and should be right in the mix.”
War Affair is being aimed at the upcoming Singapore Triple Crown series, which kicks off with the Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile (1600m) on October 9. Beasley and the then Alwin Tan-trained gelding tucked in the first two Legs under the belt two years ago, but came up short in the last Leg, the Group 1 Longines Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) won by Quechua, his two-time nemesis he will face again on Sunday.
Beasley prefers to see how War Affair, who had been plagued by injury and fitness issues after the Derby, comes through Sunday’s run before jumping to any hasty conclusion. -STC