Burridge hedging his bets with Ghalib

Trainer Steven Burridge has been in the racing game long enough to know you have to pick your battles.

So while the smart Ghalib would have been more than competitive in the Group 3 Silver Bowl (1400m) last Sunday, the experienced Australian conditioner kept the son of I Am Invincible’s powder dry.

Makin flew the stable flag in the four-year-old feature (finishing second to the smart Lim’s Saltoro by only half-a-length) and only six days later, Ghalib gets his chance in the $100,000 Kranji Stakes A race over the same trip (1400m) on Saturday.

Ghalib winning easily for Manoel Nunes in Kranji Stakes A company over 1100m on 13 April, picture Singapore Turf Club

A smart move by Burridge, given both Makin and Ghalib are owned by the same connections, and the mighty Al-Arabiya Stable get a second chance at banking a winning cheque.

And a decision made easier given some of the races ahead for both Ghalib and Makin, but not one that was made lightly.

“We thought about running Ghalib for sure,” said Burridge about a start in the Silver Bowl.

“But Makin was the better prospect for all three of the four-year-old races (Silver Bowl, Group 2 Stewards’ Cup over 1600m on 30 June and the Group 1 Singapore Derby over 1800m on 21 July), so he got the nod.

“Then it made sense for the owners to have a crack at winning two races worth about the same prizemoney (Silver Bowl $110,000) over two weekends. You have to choose your battles!

“And Ghalib looks suited in this small field (seven nominated runners) on Saturday and while he might surprise us, he looks more of a sprinter so 1400m might be his limit.

“He gets in with 56.5kgs and while (trainer) Tim’s (Fitzsimmons) good horse (Golden Monkey) looks hard to beat, our boy is in very good form and should be in the mix.

“I thought his (Ghalib) third to Lim’s Saltoro at his last start was very good (in Kranji Stakes A company over 1200m on 18 May) and I was happy with his trial the other day (finished second in trial no 2 to Golden Monkey on 6 June).

“So all good for Saturday and we will decide on where to after this race with some feedback from (jockey) Manoel (Nunes).

“Most likely a path towards the (Group 1) Lion City Cup (over 1200m on 28 July), but you’re only four once, so the Stewards’ Cup and (Singapore) Derby are still on the table.”

And like all good strategists, Burridge also has numbers on his side with the promising Ejaz also in the Kranji Stakes A field on Saturday.

“A bit of a step up in Class but you can’t pick and choose races at the moment,” said the 2010 Singapore champion trainer of the four-year-old son of Street Boss.

“But he gets in with no weight (50.5kgs) and I thought his last start win (Class 3 race over 1100m on 1 June) on the Polytrack was pretty good.

“(Apprentice jockey) Sazali (Ramli) can ride him at that weight. And while he (Ejaz) is up against some pretty good opposition, it’s a small field and he will be competitive.”

Burridge was also happy to report that Makin had pulled up very well after his big run in the Silver Bowl and was looking forward to the Stewards’ Cup and Singapore Derby.

“He’s a pretty tough little bugger, just like his trainer,” he quipped about the son of Written Tycoon.

“He was fine back the stables and I thought he ran a terrific race considering (trainer) Dan’s (Meagher) horse (Lim’s Saltoro) is tough to pass—a real bulldog!

“But we kept him honest and my horse’s (Makin) work to the wire suggests we have a serious crack at the Stewards’ Cup and the (Singapore) Derby.”

A sentiment shared by Nunes, who is very keen to turn the tables on Lim’s Saltoro the next time they meet.

“He’s (Lim’s Saltoro) a tough horse to beat for sure,” said the five-time Singapore Champion jockey.

“But Makin was dropping back from the mile, so I thought his run in the Silver Bowl was huge.

“I think he has the runs under his belt now and the mile (Stewards’ Cup) will be perfect. So we will have a chance to turn the tables.”

And the last word on Ghalib?

“Golden Monkey is a very good horse but Ghalib is in good form,” continued Nunes.

“I think 1200m is his best trip at the top level, but he has won over 1400m before (Class 3 company on 25 November 2023) so he will run well on Saturday.”