Punters proved to be right on the money after New Garden narrowly came up trumps in the $20,000 Maiden race over 1100m to finally open his account at his 11th attempt at Kranji on Saturday.
With only one third to show for thus far, the War four-year-old had clearly not been setting Kranji alight, mostly in identical maiden company, hence his long quote when markets opened, but a late betting plunge eventually saw him start at $33.
Given a 10-out-of-10 ride by Wong Chin Chuen from a centrefield spot, New Garden weaved his way around a bunched pack inside the last furlong to put himself in contention for the top prize.
New Garden (Wong Chin Chuen) outbattles his rivals to break the duck on Saturday, picture Singapore Turf Club
On the fence, Phaxe (Juan Paul van der Merwe) tried to rally, but New Garden dug deep to prevail by a neck. Showbound (Benny Woodworth) ran third another two and a half lengths away. The winning time was 1min 5.22secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack.
Trainer Jerome Tan said he had no concerns about backing New Garden up following his seventh place in an Open Maiden race over 1200m last week, confident a quieter ride would pay dividends.
“He needed the run last time. I backed him up as he’s a big strong horse,” said the in-form Singaporean handler.
“He’s a horse who’s better off held back. Last time, we tried to ride him up with the pace and he couldn’t finish off.
“Today, he took the run through the gap and he won. Happy days.”
The Tan stable is indeed firing on all cylinders. New Garden was ringing up their fourth win at the fourth 2021 meeting, following into the footsteps of another “Garden” prepared by Tan and raced by the same owner, Ling Boon Lai, Beer Garden.
After momentarily leading the log at the first two meetings, Tan currently sits in second spot to last year’s champion trainer Michael Clements, both tied on four winners, but with the Zimbabwean-born handler in front on a countback for seconds.
Wong, who, similarly to Tan, seems to have bounced back from an average 2020 season, said the weakening leaders made the win look flattering.
“They went really fast early on and he kept lengthening up while the others in front were stopping,” said the former two-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey who holds second spot on the jockey’s log on five winners, two behind Ruan Maia.
“Last time, he was too close to the pace and he didn’t quicken up. Everything just panned out well for him this time - the pace suited him and he finished off very strongly.”
Having pocketed around $3,500 from his only previous placing, New Garden has now made close to $15,000 for Mr Ling with that first success at Kranji.