The strength of Vlad Duric was again on show as he drove Magic City with his trademark vigour to touch Eagle Eye out in the nick of time in the fourth race at Kranji on Friday night.
The Singapore champion jockey and trainer Saimee Jumaat’s Brazilian ridgling actually looked in strife at the top of the straight. Buried away on the rails, the Holy Roman Emperor four-year-old had a fortress of horses in front as he straightened up.
Upfront, joint $21 favourite Eagle Eye (Barend Vorster) was going hard up against the rails and showing no signs of abdicating in the $80,000 Victoria Racing Club Trophy, a Class 3 race over 1400m.
Magic City (Vlad Duric) rushes home to pip Eagle Eye (Barend Vorster, obscured) by a short head on the line, picture Singapore Turf Club
The $26 odds of Magic City would have lengthened up dramatically then. He was still three lengths astern and facing an uphill task, but the moment he was peeled off across heels by Duric in search of daylight, the complexion of the race was turned on its head.
Once he was in the clear, he started to motor towards the line while Eagle Eye was simultaneously starting to get the staggers.
The issue could still go either way as the wire loomed, but under Duric’s relentless cracks of the whip, Magic City lunged at the line to post a short head in advance of Ricardo Le Grange’s much-vaunted Argentinian-bred three-year-old.
Saimee revealed that a spot of tinkering did play a part in getting the best out of the Pure Prize three-year-old again. Magic City was at his first win for the former Singapore champion jockey, having achieved his record of three wins under ex-Kranji trainer Laurie Laxon.
“We did something different with him to spark him up – and it’s worked,” said Saimee.
“He doesn’t show much in his trackwork. It’s very challenging to train him as you have to keep him on his toes all the time, keep him busy.
“Vlad is a good mate of mine and helps me out a lot. It’s good for him and he rode a fantastic race as well.”
At his third sit on Magic City, the Australian hoop said his racing pattern had changed from his early days as an on-pace runner, and that would be the way to ride him going forward.
“This horse sure has an engine. Obviously, at his first few runs, he was right on the speed,” said the Victorian who was aptly winning a race named after his state's turf club.
“The speed was on and I was able to tuck him in on the fence at the back. I had to ride him for luck from there.
“Once I got him in the clear, he just gave his all. He showed us how tough a horse he was.”
With that fourth success from 14 starts, Magic City has now edged his winnings closer to the $200,000 mark for the Loti-A Stable.