Dead-heat for 4YOs January and Aniki

The winning post was looming fast for Aniki but January lunged in time to make it an exciting dead-heat win in the $70,000 Class 3 race (1400m) at Kranji on Saturday.

Noted for his on-pace running pattern, the Alwin Tan-trained Aniki (Koh Teck Huat) was on his way to a barrier-to-box win after leading easily from gate one, but $34 shot January (Marc Lerner), who sat on his girth throughout, had plans to spoil the party.

The winner of last year’s Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m) was relentless in cutting back the margin from the 300m under the urgings of Lerner while $15 second favourite Aniki tried his best to hold on to a slender lead on the rails.

January (Marc Lerner, on the outside) rushes home in time for a dead-heat win with Aniki (Koh Teck Huat) in Race 9, picture Singapore Turf Club

For a moment, it looked like the Daniel Meagher-trained gelding poked his head in front for a solo victory, but the finishing photo showed the win could not be split between the two.

Also a promising four-year-old galloper, Lightning Strike (Ryan Curatolo) finished two-and-a-quarter lengths away in third.

The winning time was 1 min 21.52secs for the 1400m on the Long Course.

It was a “win-win” situation not only for the fact that both camps were rejoicing over their wins, but both winners had also earned their tickets to the upcoming feature races for four-year-olds.

Held as the three Legs of the Singapore Four-Year-Old series last year, the Group 3 Silver Bowl (1400m) will be run on 9 June, followed by the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) on 30 June and the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) on 21 July.

Owned by the Falcon Racing No 7 Stable, January was at his first win in three starts for Meagher. The Australian conditioner, who was on a treble courtesy of Lim’s Saltoro ($6) and Always Together ($15) in two $50,000 Class 4 races run over 1400m and 1200m respectively, saw improvement in the gelding after putting blinkers on him in a similar race over 1200m three weeks ago.

“He ran fantastic the other day. He was caught three deep but ran good, so we were confident he’d run a very good race today,” said Meagher, who took over the training of January from fellow trainer Donna Logan late last year.

“He had issues when we got him. I ran him and he went ordinary for me the first time (on 6 Janaury) so we gave him a reset, got him right and made him happy again.

“The owners said to take our time because he’s a decent horse. I thought he needed blinkers to settle him down and not fire him up because he’s a bit nervous.

“He put blinkers on and wore a set of earmuffs every day and he settled very well at work and trialled very good.

“Marc’s done all his trials and a few gallops. He’s done a good job.

“It was good to see him back in the winner’s enclosure. He’s a handy horse and I think I’ll get him to the 1600m. He’ll go for the 4YO races.”

Lerner, who combined with Meagher for his hat-trick of wins on Saturday, humbly put the win down to a team’s effort.

“It was teamwork that got us the result,” said the French hoop who currently sits third on the jockeys’ log on 19 wins and is two wins away from his 200th win in Singapore.

“He was caught wide at his last start but boxed on very well.

“It was a super run from him today. The other horse (Aniki) took us into the race. It was very satisfying to see him win because of his leg issues so we spent a lot of time with the horse.”

Aniki proved himself with a first win over seven furlongs and although the win had to be shared with January, Tan reckoned the soft lead helped the son of Outreach’s hung on till the end.

“Luckily the pace suited us. There weren’t many frontrunners nor much speed to the race,” said the Singaporean trainer.

“He had a comfortable lead compared to the last few runs where he was under pressure. He ran well today.

“Maybe not the Derby, but I will still let him run in the 4YO (feature) races, starting with the 1400m and then we’ll see about the 1600m.

“He’s the best horse in my stable at the moment.”

Koh, who partnered Aniki for the first time, was unsure about the win but commended on his bravery.

“I couldn’t tell who won because we were so close,” said the Singaporean rider.

“He’s very big-hearted and tried to fight when the other horse (January) came close.”

With that fourth win in seven starts, Aniki has earned close to $120,000 for owner Lee Shu Huey while January took his earnings to a tick under $260,000 for the Falcon Racing No 7 Stable with five wins in 17 starts.