The $85,000 Class 2 race over 1100m garnered a strong field with the likes of Siam Warrior, Muraahib and Pennywise, but in the end, it hatched an unexpected winner in Sacred Rebel at Kranji on Saturday.
The $107 pop incidentally keeps up last Sunday’s record-breaking feat of the Mark Walker-Remarkable Stable combination – five wins for the new outfit set up by the Kiwi trainer, the highest score even achieved by an owner at Kranji.
Sacred Rebel had been unable to cross the line first since July 28 last year when he scored his last win to cap a promising record of four wins at his first seven starts.
Sacred Rebel (Hakim Kamaruddin, No 3) springs a major upset in the Class 2 race, picture Singapore Turf Club
Then racing in the colours of powerful Malaysian owner Raffles Racing Stable, the Sepoy six-year-old was even tested at Group level a couple of times, but did not measure up. In eight subsequent starts, he finished more often towards the wrong end of the field.
But Walker had a hunch the old spark had not died out yet, going on his recent work after the long break and a new rider’s feedback. He thought what better way to find out if it could mean a second lease of life than running him in a race, even going out of his way to gain a ticket in Saturday’s race.
“I used my trump card for Sacred Rebel. Sometimes you have horses with a genuine chance and they are balloted out, and you have to try and give them a run,” said Walker.
“Without a trump card, he would end up without a run. It made sure he got in the race, and it’s paid off.
“This horse had climbed so high in the ratings, he went to the top class so quick that he lost his way a little.
“We gave him a nice break, we went back to basics with him, and he has come back in better form. I think the head farrier Paul Summers changing a few things with his shoes also helped.
“He had two quiet trials, and on Tuesday, my new apprentice jockey (Jerlyn Seow Poh Hui), a young lady who has ridden in close to 50 trials by now and is hoping to get her licence soon, was very complimentary about Sacred Rebel.
“It hasn’t been easy with the coronavirus, we’ve been short of track riders, but those who were here have been able to keep things going.
“Last week’s results were a nice reward to all their hard work. (Assistant-trainer) Gus (Clutterbuck) is no spring chicken, but he has led from the front.
“He’s so skinny at the moment (laughs), but he has led by example and the whole team has rallied behind him.”
Not the quickest out of the gates, Sacred Rebel settled in the third of four trios of runners making up the early racing formation, stuck out three wide but with cover.
The landscape changed when stablemate Red Rover (Ng Choon Kiat) stumbled and was carted out wide after copping a check at the 600m, enabling Walker’s rising apprentice jockey Hakim Kamaruddin to go through the gap and take closer order on Sacred Rebel.
Still, not many would have imagined a horse with not a single placing at his last eight starts could make any further headway with the leading picks Siam Warrior (Ryan Munger), favourite River Radiance (John Sundradas), Muraahib (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) and Augustano (Juan Paul van der Merwe) fighting out the finish.
Muraahib was on the cusp of giving the Lee Freedman-A’Isisuhairi pair a second win after Mr Malek earlier (see previous report) when he struck the front 100m out, but they were foiled by a totally reinvigorated Sacred Rebel on the outside.
The winning margin was three-quarter length with Muraahib getting the better of River Radiance by one length. The winning time for the Polytrack 1100m was 1min 4.74secs.
Sacred Rebel was bringing up his first paycheque for his new owners, the Remarkable Stable, but all-up, he has now taken his record to five wins and one third from 16 starts for around $225,000 in stakes earnings.
While it was not the same bonanza as last Sunday, Walker was at the double (after Broadway Success - $24 - won the first race of the 14-race programme, the $30,000 Class 5 Division 1 race over 1400m) to extend his premiership lead by five versus Michael Clements, who fired blanks on Saturday.
Walker’s apprentice jockey Hakim went one better with a hat-trick of wins. He was also aboard Broadway Success but he gained a third win aboard the Desmond Koh-trained Thomas De Lago ($40) in the penultimate race, the $50,000 Class 4 race over 1000m.
The big haul has edged the Malaysian rider closer to reigning Singapore champion apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong by cutting the lead to only four winners (17 versus 13).