Gutsy sprinter-miler Mr Fantastic clawed his way back from defeat with a hard-fought win in the $125,000 Kranji Stakes A race over 1200m on Friday night.
After being used up from his outside alley as he went in search of the lead, the South African-bred six-year-old son of Jet Master looked vulnerable in the home straight. When Aramco (John Powell) loomed on his outside, he started to recede on the inside, giving the impression he had been softened up by the early effort.
But vigorously ridden by Barend Vorster, the game galloper slowly picked himself off the canvas to reclaim the lead from Aramco. The $51 shot seemed to have the race all sewn up until odds-on favourite Super Fortune (Olivier Placais) came with a late charge on the outside.
Mr Fantastic (Barend Vorster) fights back on the rails to take out the Kranji Stakes A race on Friday, picture Singapore Turf Club
Mr Fantastic, however, rose to that second challenge by withstanding it with the same aplomb to get up by a neck. Super Fortune, who struggled to find daylight at the 300m, beat Aramco into third place by the same margin.
The winning time was 1min 10.03secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.
“He’s as tough as they come,” said trainer Ricardo Le Grange.
“I’m so rapt it’s a South African horse who has won for Mark and Emily (Yong). They have been great supporters of mine.
“He deserved to win and was given a very good ride by Barend. He was beaten but he got him to get up.”
The win did, however, have a slight bittersweet taste. The much-hyped South African Group 1 winner Noah From Goa Le Grange was saddling to his Singapore debut in the same race could only finish fifth around four lengths astern.
“The other horse took a couple of bumps in the straight. I’ll have to speak to Nooresh (Juglall) and see what happened,” said the South African handler.
“The 1200m was always going to be difficult for him first-up. It’s back to the drawing board with him.
“But he had this first run and we’ll take it from there.”
Vorster, who has now been aboard at eight of Mr Fantastic’s nine wins, described Friday’s performance as a “solid win”.
“It was a real solid win. He was nice and fit for that race,” said the South African jockey.
“He had a real sharp gallop during the week. He really flew through that.
“When the other horse came on the outside, he found another gear.”
With that latest win, Mr Fantastic has taken his handy record past the $640,000 mark for the Avengers Stable.