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Aniki to prove himself this Saturday before Group test

The Alwin Tan-trained Aniki, which means “big brother” in Japanese, will be hoping to assert his dominance in the $70,000 Class 3 race (1400m) at Kranji on Saturday.

On the back of three straight wins, the four-year-old son of Outreach looks very well placed on 54.5kgs, albeit he will be stepping up in trip and class to continue on his winning ways.

He led from start to finish at his last-start win when he carried 58kgs in a Class 4 race over 1200m on 27 January with the now Seoul-based jockey A’Isisuhairi Kasim onboard. Previously, he also bagged two other on-pace victories, hence another forward run is expected from him this time.


Aniki (Vlad Duric) will be at his first Class 3 test this Saturday, picture Singapore Turf Club

Jockey Vlad Duric, who rode Aniki to his first two wins, is back in the saddle and while the Australian hoop will probably ride one kilo over at 55.5kgs, Tan believed it will be crucial having the four-time Singapore champion jockey aboard.

“It’s a big step-up in Class and distance but we think he (Aniki) will go well,” said the 2016 Singapore champion trainer.

“It’s a test for me and the horse, but he has surprised me after his Novice (over 1200m on 30 December) and Class 4 wins.

“He carried weight (58kgs) in those races and you can see he likes to go forward, which takes the luck out. We will stick to those tactics.

“Vlad knows him better than anyone, so if somebody esle wants to lead or we draw badly, he (Duric) can make a decision after the start. He’s a great jockey and I have full faith in him.”

Indeed it was Duric, with some help from trainer Steven Burridge, who got the winning run rolling after he suggested to add a tongue-tie on Aniki after a trackwork session in early November last year.

“Vlad got me to put a tongue-tie on after Steve (Steven Burridge) told him that Aniki was playing with his tongue during trackwork one day,” explained Tan.

“Steve is a great guy. His stables are next to mine and we always run things past each other, but we beat his horse (Stop The Water) into second that day (in an Open Maiden race over 1100m on 25 November) so he wasn’t happy (laughs).

“I think that was his (Aniki) 12th race (arrived in Singapore a 10-start maiden from Australia) and he had placed six times, so he deserved that win.

“But again, he surprised me by winning in good company at his next two starts, so the tongue-tie has obviously helped and I think he has more to offer.”

In fact, the next step for Aniki would depend on how he handles both the step-up to 1400m and Class 3 company, but Tan has pencilled in one or two Group races for the Lee Shu Huey-owned gelding.

“I like to plan ahead,” quipped the multiple Group 1-winning trainer.

“Obviously he has to show us something on Saturday, one step at a time, but I think he will handle the 1400m no problem.

“So a race like the (Group 3) Silver Bowl (1400m) while he’s four is definitely on the cards. I also think the mile of the (Group 2) Stewards’ Cup would be in his distance range.

“And even the (Group 2) EW Barker (Trophy) in April (21). That’s a handicap race, so you never know we might have a crack at that, but we will know more after Saturday.”

Opened to four-year-olds, the Silver Bowl will be run on 9 June while the Stewards’ Cup (1600m) will be held on 30 June.

Duric agreed with Tan that the 1400m will not be an issue for a horse with plenty of upsides.

“He’s down in weight, 1400m won’t be a problem,” said the well-respected hoop on Tuesday.

“The step-up to Class 3 will be okay for him too as he’s improving all the time.

“His work was really good this morning. He worked a treat, so he’s definitely in the race for sure.”
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