The Bachers’ first foray into horse ownership did not take long to reap its first reward when their first acquisition Defence Adviser scored his first win at only his third start on Friday night.
South Africans Ryan and Renee Bacher have always loved going to the races whether they were at their hometown of Durban or the many other places they have lived in through Ryan’s various postings as an investment banker, be it London, Hong Kong or Singapore where they have been in the last 2 ½ years.
But they had never owned a racehorse until common friend Paul Hickman (St George Stable) introduced them to Kranji trainer Stephen Gray last year.
Greg Cheyne guides Defensive Minister to victory on Friday night, picture Singapore Turf Club
The Kiwi handler, who is never adverse to opening his doors to new owners, had shares in a Handsome Ransom three-year-old available after the original owner parted with him. It did not take too long for Gray to persuade the South African couple to buy into the New Zealand-bred known as Defence Adviser – two thirds while Gray kept the remaining one-third.
After two unplaced runs with the latest a marked improvement - a fourth in a 1200m race on Polytrack after missing the start - Defence Adviser gave his new owners plenty to cheer about when he came off a cosy run on the rails in the $65,000 Restricted Maiden-1 (2&3YO) race over 1400m to score a gutsy half-a-length win from Pied Piper (John Sundradas) with Gray’s more fancied runner The Great Grey third another head away.
The winning time was 1min 25.23secs.
Though Gray thought The Great Grey had a luckless run, he was still rapt he had saddled the winner, especially for the first-time owners of Defence Adviser, whom he said was bought mainly by virtue of his relation to one of his handy horses, Ryan James.
“He had a lovely run on the rails while the other horse (The Great Grey) got into all sorts of trouble, but that’s racing,” said Gray.
“I’m still very happy for the owners as it’s their first horse. I bought him as a two-year-old as he was a half-brother to Ryan James.
“He’s still a pretty nervous type of horse, but I think he’s got a good future here. He’s no superstar but he’s going the right way and he should be able to get a mile.”
While Gray was leading in his 18th winner for the year and is accustomed to such accolades, he was more than happy to take a step back and let the connections bask in the limelight at their first visit at the winner’s box.
“We’ve always loved horse racing. We’ve been to the races whether we were in London, Hong Kong or here,” said Renee Bacher.
“But we didn’t realise how easy it was to own horses here until we met Stephen.
“This is our first horse and it’s just an unbelievable feeling. We’ve been coming early in the morning to watch his trackwork as well.
“He’s run 10th, fourth and he’s won tonight when we did not really expect him to do so. I didn’t put any money on him as Stephen told us The Great Grey had a better chance, but we’re still excited he won.”
The bubbly owner’s first question to the winning jockey, fellow South African Greg Cheyne upon dismounting was: “How did he feel?” and the likeable hoop summed it up the best: “Winners always feel good!”