A timely double at Kranji saw English trainer James Peters enjoy a good night at the office, albeit remotely from his home on Friday night.
While under normal circumstances, especially if it’s during a well-earned break, yelling their runners home from an armchair is not such a bad thing for trainers, but these are not normal circumstances at all.
Peters and girlfriend Nicola had to serve the mandatory 14-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) when they returned from a holiday in England on March 20 as a result of the health measures imposed by the Singapore government because of the COVID-19 outbreak. He missed the March 27 meeting when his team came home empty-handed, and had since been passing instructions to his staff on the phone for the day-to-day operations.
Skywalk (Michael Rodd, red and yellow stars silks) comes out tops in the Class 1 race on Friday night, picture Singapore Turf Club
The young trainer may seriously consider this new form of “telecommuting” in the future. Two of his five runners got on the board on Friday night – Ma Bao Bao (John Sundradas, $33) in the $30,000 Class 5 Division 2 race over 1200m and Skywalk (Michael Rodd, $19) in the $100,000 Class 1 race over 1200m.
“It’s great for my staff as they’ve had to work overtime in the last couple of weeks,” said Peters who comes out of self-isolation tomorrow.
“The first winner (Ma Bao Bao) is an in-and-out performer, he can run well and run badly the next time. But he’s just a Class 5 horse, that was the right race for him tonight, and John also rode him well.
“He had him in a handier spot than at his recent runs. It’s good for the owner (Ma Peicheng Stable) as they’ve been very patient with this horse.
“As for Skywalk, like I’ve said before, it’s hard for him to win races as his rating is so high in the handicap. He always tries his best and credit should go to Michael for tonight’s win.
“I rang him this morning and told him I’d leave it to him. He had an awkward gate (9), but Michael quickly had him up on the early strong pace.
“He was in the right spot and he’s such an ultra-tough horse when he’s under pressure.”
Upon dispatch, favourite My Dreamliner (Ruan Maia) shot straight to the front as half-expected, but gave up rather meekly when Skywalk, who had stridden up to his girth from the get-go, loomed upsides at the point of the turn.
The Battle Paint six-year-old kicked clear, and though he looked to be peaking on his run in the concluding stages, he held on bravely to fend off the fast-finishing Star Of Jupiter (Shafrizal Saleh) by a head. Muraahib (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) ran third another 1 ¼ lengths away.
Skywalk recorded the winning time of 1min 11.34secs for the 1200m on the Polytrack, with the prolific moneyspinner having now racked up close to $700,000 in stakes earnings for the China Horse Club.
“They didn’t go that quick. I was able to scoot across and sit outside My Dreamliner, the pace was steady,” said Rodd.
“It was a good opportunity at that weight. He did get tired in the last 50m when Shane Baertschiger’s horse (Star Of Jupiter) came up, but he pinned his ears back and kicked again.”
As for Ma Bao Bao, a four-year-old by Manhattan Rain, he was bringing up his first win cheque that has boosted his previous earnings from one second and one third past the $25,000 mark for his connections.