Trainer Alvin Tan admitted to a few jangled nerves when former A$600,000 purchase Imacruiser was sent to his stable after a relatively inconspicuous stint under the care of trainers Michael Freedman and David Kok, but Sunday’s sterling win certainly brought him a huge relief.
The Ninetyseven Stable principal, Mr Hong Ying Kwee, of Super Easy fame, had thought the son of Akhadan, a previous three-time winner from four starts in Australia, would be money well spent, but with only two wins from 26 starts at Kranji and prizemoney which was far below its hefty price tag, Mr Hong decided to sell his shares to the other part-owner Mr Lim Bok Hoo.
Under the new sole proprietorship, a stable transfer from Freedman to Tan soon ensued – and the results, though not immediate, were encouraging: A third and a fourth when stepped back up in distance to 1600m and 1800m.
In cruise control Imacruiser and Ivaldo Santana on their way to victory on Sunday, picture Singapore Turf Club
Going against the grain, Tan elected for a drop back to sprints on Sunday when he lined up the six-year-old in the $75,000 Open Benchmark 67 race over 1200m on Polytrack, and picked the jockey who rode his last winner Daring Splendour – Ivaldo Santana.
With astute instructions thrown into the mix, the combination proved a hit when Imacruiser defeated a handy field of nine rivals, exploding away inside the last 300m to a 3 ¼ length win over Aspen Heights (Barend Vorster) with Street Ruffian (Oscar Chavez), also prepared by Tan, third another head away. The winning time was 1min 12.24secs.
Lucky Xuan (Alan Munro) overcame his widest alley to lead, but was given no respite by Wassaic (Greg Cheyne) who came parking right on his girth while Imacruiser ($40) also rushed forward to posy up in third spot three wide facing the breeze.
Meanwhile, last-minute favourite Golden Curl with young apprentice Wong Wei Xiang up had slotted into an ideal spot on the fence behind the leading trio.
Turning for home, Lucky Xuan was the first to show the white flag, done in by his early exertions to eventually run last, while Imacruiser wasted no time in hitting the front. Well ridden by Santana, Tan’s new recruit pulled clear to score with plenty up his sleeve.
“When he first came to me, I felt a bit pressured as he was a A$600,000 purchase,” said Tan. “The owners have always had high hopes for him, but somehow he had not quite delivered.
“But I realised he was dry-coated and also had stomach ulcers. Once I fixed these two issues, I noticed an improvement in his condition.
“His first two runs for me were pretty good, and I was expecting a good run from him today. The opposition was quite strong but he won quite easily in the end.”
Santana said he only followed Tan’s instructions and the gelding responded well to his riding for a comfortable win.
“The trainer told me to put him in either second or third position. He was third three wide but was always travelling very well,” said the Brazilian jockey.
“In the straight, he gave a very good kick and won going away.”