Champion galloper War Affair (O'Reilly x Kristique) is the latest big gun to drop out of the S$1.35 million SING-Gr.1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) on November 20.
Trainer Bruce Marsh said it was a wind problem that occurred after his last run in the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1800m), the second Leg of the Singapore Triple Crown series on October 30, that put paid to any plans of pressing on towards the third Leg, the Gold Cup.
The multiple Group 1 winner had an ideal run sitting outside surprise leader Titanium in the Raffles Cup. When he hit the lead at the 300m, he would have then left his rivals in tatters when he was at his absolute best.
But just like in the first Leg, the Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile (1600m) three weeks earlier, the six-year-old son of O’Reilly seemed to hit a brickwall. There were no two ways about it; the dash of old wasn’t there.
He ran fourth in the Mile, less than two lengths off Debt Collector and did a little better when third less than one length off Debt Collector again in the Raffles Cup.
They were by no means abject runs, but Marsh and jockey Danny Beasley knew there was something amiss with their warhorse.
“He just didn’t hit the line like the old self. There had to be something wrong, and true enough, he had wind problems,” said Marsh.
“Even then, he did exceptionally well to finish where he did. We discussed with the owners, the Ong family, and we had no other choice but to pull out of the Gold Cup.
“He will go for a wind operation in around two weeks’ time. These operations are very successful these days.
“The well-being of the horse came first and we hope he will come back next year. We will just have to find what races are available for him.”
Beasley was just as gutted the horse he partnered to six of his 15 wins, including the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge clean sweep in 2014, would be in his box come November 20. War Affair has been plagued in the last 1 ½ years by leg injuries, but Beasley felt the time off would at the end of the day give him a better shot at racing longevity.
“It’s just a credit to the horse that he’s been racing at the highest level here in Singapore and still being ultra-competitive through his issues,” said the Australian rider.
“All credit to Bruce, Jason (Ong) and the staff for having been able to present him to the races at this level.
“But we could all see, and I could feel it, that in the last 200m of both the Mile and the Raffles Cup, it wasn’t the same War Affair, and obviously that’s when his issues were coming into play.
“In the Mile, he felt like he just fatigued out on me, but in the Raffles Cup, it was like a strange run in the last 100m, I felt like I was nailed to the fence and he was just going up and down on the one spot.
“He was just floating to the line. I think he just fatigued out through a loss of air because of that wind problem.
“I know a lot of horses who’ve had such wind operations and were able to come back and win. This could actually prolong his career.
“It’s quite amazing when you look back at the Mile and the Raffles Cup, how he had this problem and was beaten less than two lengths.
“Like I said, for him to still be running so competitively at that level and racing the way he was, it’s amazing how a good horse he was.” -STC