Brown's smart filly busts hearts after fidgety start

Exciting but flighty filly Filibuster gave a few anxious moments with her barrier antics on Friday night, but once she was sent on her way, the issue was put beyond doubt in no time.

Already in a lather of sweat on the way to the machine, Filibuster, who was sent out at unbackable odds of $7, was in no mood to be loaded. Led by Cliff Brown’s assistant-trainer Tim Fitzsimmons, the barrier attendants did not give up on the skittish customer, but it was only when jockey Manoel Nunes dismounted that she finally relented.

But once the gates of her barrier No 1 crashed back, the game Ilovethiscity three-year-old was out like a flash, clearly not a great fan of such confined spaces.

An airborne Filibuster (Manoel Nunes) soars towards an easy win in Race 7, picture Singapore Turf Club

Nunes tried to anchor her down but Uncle Lucky (Zyrul Nor Azman) came ranging alongside to keep Brown’s filly on her toes.

Despite her wild expense of energy behind the barriers, Filibuster was a picture of poise once she swung for home, and by the 200m, the chasers could kiss their chances of reeling her back goodbye.

Filibuster drew clear to go and score by the same margin as at her debut win three weeks ago – a tidy gap of 3 ½ lengths – with Wijaya (Azhar Ismail) winning the battle for minors by a nose from Dreamweaver (Michael Rodd), by the same token smashing the Class record of 1min 4.5secs by 0.34 second.

Racing manager Chris Bock was delighted with the second consecutive win, but still preferred to keep any over-the-top hyperboles clearly in check.

“Let’s wait and see. The step-up in Class in Singapore is huge,” said the Australian horseman.

“Her greatest attribute is her toughness. She’s had a tough campaign going back to the gates for so long, but she’s obviously got a lot of talent.

“It’s been a great team effort.”

As he walked into the paddock, Nunes for one had a nagging doubt about Filibuster holding it together this time around. The Singapore champion jockey thought her cantankerous habits were comfortably held at bay first-up, but the omens in the parade ring were a lot less reassuring.

“At her first run, she was quieter and was loaded quite well, but tonight, she was very hot. I was actually worried she would not go into the gates,” said Nunes who was at a riding treble having saluted earlier with Dayuan and Justice Lass.

“She was sweating in the parade ring and I was worried she would go crazy at the barriers as she’s a big strong filly.

“But the handlers and the starters Damien (Kinninmont) and John (Pepe) have done a great job, not just tonight, but throughout her education at the barriers.

“She was the hot favourite tonight, and I’m glad they did everything they could to get her in. It’s been a great team effort.

“She is actually a straightforward filly. She jumped well and quickly put herself in front.

“I actually expected Bruce’s (Marsh) horse (Uncle Lucky) to lead, but I rode her like she was the best horse in the race, and she was too good in the end.”

Filibuster has now chalked up close to $75,000 in stakes earnings for the Divided House Stable.

When prodded about a sudden flicker of hope in his chances of a fightback in the jockey’s premiership given his hat-trick of wins has seen him chip away at runaway leader Vlad Duric’s margin to 11 winners (74 versus 63), Nunes laughed it off.

“Vlad is still hard to beat. He is too far ahead, but I’ll try my best,” said Nunes who has claimed the last three seasons’ top honours in the Kranji riding ranks.