The Steven Burridge yard was right on the money with two former Malaysian-based gallopers in the two feature races across both sides of the Causeway on Sunday.
The Australian handler sent Speed Baby back to his former hunting ground to contest the RM1 million Piala Emas Sultan Selangor (2000m), a race he won with Risky Business last year, and again struck paydirt. Speed Baby was ridden by 2007 Singapore champion jockey Noel Callow, who also happened to be aboard Risky Business in last year’s win.
Twenty-five minutes later and about 300km further down south from Kuala Lumpur, it was Captain Obvious’s turn to hog the limelight for Team Burridge as he took out the $125,000 RDA Cup (1000m) on the Polytrack to bring up a memorable double.
Captain Obvious (Muhd Firdaus) scores a cruising win in the RDA Cup on Sunday, picture Singapore Turf Club
While Burridge had travelled up to Sungei Besi, the Kuala Lumpur racecourse, to watch Speed Baby race, his wife Julie oversaw the team back home, and while delighted at the rare feat, she was more insistent on paying tribute to Captain Obvious’s winning jockey, their apprentice Muhd “Freddie” Firdaus.
“It’s great for the team, but more so for Freddie, who works so hard at the stable and does not get as many opportunities,” said Julie Burridge.
“He rode him a treat. We told him the pace will be on with horses like Coup Align, Bionic Boy and Northern Lion in the race.
“We also told him a horse like Captain Obvious can’t burn the candle at both ends. Just let him sit off the speed and don't worry about them.
“He listened to the instructions and waited for the home turn to go around them and the horse was too good in the end.
“It’s great Speed Baby won in Malaysia as well. He won easy with the legend – King Callow!”
Burridge said she would leave any decision about Captain Obvious’s future plans to her husband.
“We’ll review how he pulls up but it’s always tough to find a race for a horse with his ratings. Steve will look at the programme and find something for him,” she said.
Firdaus, whose last win by coincidence came aboard another horse raced by the same owner as Captain Obvious’, Madam Leong Phooi Yee - Birthday Gift - was ecstatic he had netted his first “feature” win, which he admitted was made easier by the last-minute scratching of the favourite Better Be The One due to lameness.
“I couldn’t believe it when they showed the white flag for the favourite,” said Firdaus, who transferred to Burridge after his first mentor John Meagher relinquished his licence in 2011.
“That was good for us, but I still had to remain focused as I still had to ride my race and do my best.
“This horse is the best horse I have ever ridden. I just had to sit pretty and take hold of him until the 400m and he then did the rest.
“Steve had told me everybody would want to go forward and to just take a sit in 3-4-5 (third, fourth or fifth).
“I was a bit worried as I didn’t know the horse, but I know he’s always won from the front, but I guess Steve knew what he was doing.
“This is a great day for me as it’s the first trophy I’ve ever won.”
Captain Obvious, who recently returned a one-time winner from Dubai and last ran fourth to Ato in the Group 1 KrisFlyer International Sprint (1200m) last May, normally dictates terms in front, but this time round eased off the speed to settle in the box-seat behind Coup Align (Barend Vorster) and Bionic Boy (Saifudin Ismail).
The leading pair set a frantic pair and were inevitably left a sitting shot for Captain Obvious at the top of the straight. Firdaus hesitated for a split second whether to take the inside or outside run, but when he finally elected to go for clear galloping room on the outside, the race was soon all over bar the shouting.
The Verglas six-year-old streeted his rivals with contempt to score by more than five lengths from Coup Align with Northern Lion (Ivaldo Santana) third another neck away. The winning time was a slick 58.17secs, which is only 0.41 second outside the record of Northern Lion.