Elite Invincible can atone, says Walker

Singapore champion trainer Mark Walker has put a line through Elite Invincible’s last run when a disappointing seventh on New Year’s Day.

Backed down to $15 favouritism in a Class 3 race over 1200m on turf, the Irish-bred four-year-old was a pale shadow of the impressive two-length debut winner he was in a 1200m race on Polytrack a month earlier.

Caught wide throughout, Elite Invincible was left with too much to do when Justice Day and Captain Jamie quickened away to fight out the finish – which Justice Day won by a short head.

Trainer Mark Walker receives his trophy from Singapore Turf Club President and Chief Executive 
Mr Chong Boo Ching at the Singapore Racing Awards on Monday night, picture Singapore Turf Club

Walker will now run Elite Invincible in Sunday’s $80,000 Class 3 Division 1 race over 1400m, hoping the Elite Performance Stable-owned gelding can reproduce the run shown on debut more than that of his last outing.

“I think we can forget his last run. Horses close to the fence had an advantage that day,” said the New Zealander who last year won his second Singapore premiership after the first one captured in 2015.

“Inside draws were of huge benefit that day. It was also the case on Sunday, a lot won from the front.

“Another horse of mine (Kingsman) was disappointing on New Year’s Day. When I watched the replays, I realised that horses drawn out on the other part of the track could not make any ground on the leaders.

“There was 129mm of rain that fell in 24 hours. Anywhere else, the races wouldn’t have been allowed to carry on, but here it was and it is due credit to the Singapore Turf Club’s track people.”

Walker reported that Elite Invincible has not shown any side-effects of that run, hoping he can redeem himself as soon as Sunday.

“Vlad (Duric, his winning partner on debut) galloped him yesterday and was very happy with him,” said Walker.

“I think we can forget his last run. The 1400m will be even better for him as well.

“Put it this way, I would be disappointed if he doesn’t finish in the first three.”

Though there is definitely an engine there, Walker has not yet decided whether the son of Archarcharch would head towards the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, which kicks off with the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1400m) on June 10, culminating with the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (1800m) on July 22.

“From his two runs so far, he has done well on the all-weather. If he is more of a Polytrack horse, then he would be a question mark for the 4YO series,” said Walker.

“I don’t see any reason why he cannot run on turf, though, but we’ll know a lot more on Sunday.”

On his second Singapore champion trainer silverware, Walker said it was a success that was shared with other people, not just his.

“Gus and Karen Clutterbuck have been with me for 15 years and I have now won seven premierships – five in New Zealand and two here – with them,” said the former Matamata mentor.

“They have been a huge part of my success. Robbie Hewitson joined me two years ago and this is his first title with me, but he has also been a big team player here.

“I would also like to thank my head supervisor Eddie who organises all the boys at the stable.”

It may be early days, but it is clear the Walker juggernaut won’t stop so soon. He has already got out of the 2018 starting blocks with two winners on New Year’s Day (Big Regards and Hidden Promise), but he still does not make a third premiership his be-all and end-all.

“If it happens, it happens,” said the trainer in his typical unassuming style.

“What matters more to me is to place my horses in the right races, so they can win the most races, to help maximize the owners’ investments.

“My main objective is to win as much prizemoney as possible and you can only do that by treating each horse as an individual.”