Top jockey Michael Rodd claimed the riding honours with a hat-trick of wins in the last three races on Friday night’s eight-race programme.
The big haul sprang the Australian rider to the top of the Singapore jockeys’ premiership, one win clear of reigning champion jockey Vlad Duric, who came back empty-handed on that night.
After saluting aboard the Mohd Yusof-trained Smart Vintage in the $45,000 Class 4 Non Premier race over 1700m, Rodd went back-to-back aboard Kratos for his main supporter Cliff Brown in the $80,000 Kranji Stakes C race over 1000m before wrapping up the night with a flourish in the Lucky Last, the $45,000 Class 4 Non Premier race over 1200m aboard Arr Flair for trainer Steven Burridge.
Kratos (Michael Rodd) makes a winning comeback on Friday night, picture Singapore Turf Club
While the first two winners were outright favourites (Smart Vintage went off at $15 and Kratos was quoted at $13), Arr Flair was also the first pick, but shared joint $15 favouritism with Paragon Star, who ran third.
But even if they were all well tried, what really stood out in all three wins was Rodd’s spot-on judgement when it comes to pushing the button at the right moment.
In the last race, race-leader Sun Empire (Wong Chin Chuen) looked all but home at the 200m, but Arr Flair came right in the nick of time to deny him by a short head.
Aboard Kratos, Rodd showed he also knew when to push the “off” button. After deftly steering his mount across from a wide gate to sit outside the leader Best Wishes (Syahir Abdul), Rodd just cuddled him along from that point until the 300m marker when he released the handbrakes.
In one fell swoop, the Guillotine four-year-old skipped clear to a commanding lead with the rest of the field battling in his wake. Mindful that the smart Polytrack sprinter was returning after a long break due to throat issues, Rodd lifted his foot off the pedal 100m out once he knew the win was all stitched up.
The fast-closing Pole Paradise (Noh Senari) cut back the margin to 1 ½ lengths with Flak Jacket (John Powell) third another half-a-length away. The winning time was 59.6 seconds for the 1000m on the Polytrack.
Shortly after his second place to Elite Star in a Class 3 race over 1100m back in October, the Olympian Stable-owned grey underwent a wind op which cast him on the outer for five months.
He did tip the scales 22kgs overweight on Friday, but that proved to be of no hindrance to the talented gelding.
“He’s a ripping horse, very honest. He arguably should have won at his last start, but he was taken on and that softened him up,” said Rodd.
“But he was in a 1100m race then, and back to 1000m tonight, he was too good. The weight wasn’t an issue; it didn’t bother him at all.
“He’s never won over 1100m but I think he can get it now as he’s come back stronger and better.”
Brown was on the same page as Rodd when he said Kratos has made much headway since the surgery.
“He has matured a lot and is much stronger now,” said the Australian handler.
“I was a bit surprised about the 22kgs gain in weight, but anyway, he’s done a good job to win first-up after his throat surgery.
“A big thank you to Dr Dan Shaw and his team at the Singapore Turf Club vet department.”
With that fourth win in 10 starts, Kratos has now amassed around $220,000 in stakes earnings for the Olympian Stable.