Trainer Bruce Marsh said connections were
all happy with War Affair’s (O’Reilly x Kristique) first run after almost a
year when seventh on a soft track in the Gr.22 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate
(1200m) in New Zealand on Saturday.
Now eight, the 2014 Singapore Horse of the
Year left for New Zealand shortly after his last unplaced run in the Singapore
Gr.3 Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m) last September. The son of O’Reilly spelled for
six months at his place of birth, the Trelawney Stud in Cambridge before being
aimed at his comeback race under the care of Marsh’s son Stephen.
Ridden by Danielle Johnson and carrying
58.5kgs in the Weight-for-Age event at Te Rapa, War Affair settled three wide
with cover in the first half of the race before a check saw him drop back to a
little worse than midfield at the 1000m.
He was then urged along from the 700m to
take closer order, cornering out wide for his run to the line. Though he stayed
one-paced, he stuck on rather well to finish just over five lengths off the
winner Melody Belle, who incidentally had former two-time Singapore champion
apprentice jockey Shafiq Rizuan (known as Rusof in New Zealand) aboard.
“We’re all very pleased with that run, the
jockey and trainer were also very happy. The track was right against him, but
he still finished seventh not too far away from the winner,” said Marsh Snr.
“He was checked at the five furlong, and
dropped back to midfield. He made up ground, even if he was not sprinting like
he usually does.
“The track was too soft and there was a lot
of kickback. He wouldn’t have run on such a track in Singapore, he wasn’t at
home on the wet conditions.”
Marsh said the 16-time winner and multiple-
Singapore Group One winner has pulled up a treat and should be good to go for
his next race soon, but which one is at this stage a question mark.
“He’s pulled up enormous after the run. His
feet and his wind are good, he ate good and he looked bright and fit the next
day,” said the Kiwi handler who was the Ong family’s warrior’s third and last
trainer in Singapore (after Mark Walker and Alwin Tan), saddling him to his
last two wins, including a dead-heat with Storm Troops in the Gr.3 Saas Fee
Stakes (1400m) last year in May.
“We haven’t yet discussed about his next
race. We were looking at the Tarzino Trophy but he had to run in the first
three in the Foxbridge to get in.
“He’s 22nd on the list. We’ll need to speak
to the trainer and look for another race if he doesn’t get in.”
The Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) is the
first Leg of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown at Hastings and will be run on September
Another person who watched War Affair’s
comeback race with great interest was one of his former jockeys in Singapore,
Danny Beasley. Now assistant-trainer to Daniel Meagher, the former Sydney rider
steered War Affair to six of his 12 Group successes, including three at Group One
level (Singapore Guineas, Panasonic Kranji Mile and Raffles Cup).
“War Affair was the best horse I ever rode
in Singapore. I won three Group One races with him,” said Beasley.
I’ve been trying to keep up with what was happening with him in New Zealand.
It’s good to know his wind problems are over.
“He was a bit one-paced in the race and
couldn’t quite make up ground in the end but he didn’t finish far behind the
“It’s great that he’s pulled up well and I
look forward to hearing about his future plans.” -STC