If there was to be a vote for the cliffhanger of the night, it would have been won hands-down by the penultimate race where the judge probably needed a magnifying glass before adjudging the race to Ares.
At the 200m, most thought the issue in the $60,000 Open Benchmark 67 race over 1400m would be ironed out between the two main protagonists in the Singapore apprentice jockey’s title race, Wong Chin Chuen aboard pacesetter Oxbow Sun ($105) and Zawari Razali aboard Lim’s Knight ($115).
With Zawari having earlier pulled one back on Wong, the 2016 champion apprentice jockey, with Mighty Conqueror to narrow the gap down to three winners, the stakes were high as the two apprentices went head-to-head.
Ares (Michael Rodd, No 6) thunders home to eventually nab Oxbow Sun (Wong Chin Chuen, No 2) on the line, picture Singapore Turf Club
But they were in the end upstaged by the superior finish of Ares ($36), who at the 300m looked a forlorn hope for Michael Rodd and trainer Cliff Brown.
Even if Ares was still in the mix, the fact that two or three had swept around him with a seemingly greater momentum made him look like he was backpedalling. Rodd described the tough run better.
“He’s a good horse when you can hold him up. The way the race transpired, I was so confident at the 300m,” said the Australian jockey.
“When (raging favourite) Lim’s Magic whipped around us, I had to come off heels. My horse was not balanced yet, and then Gol Goal also came around us and we were a bit tight for room.
“I know my horse has a great furlong, though, and he can really launch. Cliff was very confident when it rained, and that gave me the confidence, too.”
Brown said that the Olympian Stable-owned Irish-bred five-year-old by Approve was no champion but he would love to have a stable full of such horses.
“He’s no world-beater but he got the job done tonight,” said the Dester Singapore Gold Cup-winning Australian trainer (Gilt Complex).
“He’s been working well and Michael gave him a great ride. The cut in the ground was also significant.”
With that fourth win from 26 starts, Ares has now brought up prizemoney in the vicinity of $250,000 for the OIympian Stable.
As for Lim’s Magic (Glen Boss, $8), he had every chance after he stuck to his usual get-back racing pattern, settling in a rearward position three wide. The two-time winner started to improve noticeably from the 600m, and even loomed as a winner at the 300m, but he peaked on his run to finish fifth, around 1 ½ lengths off the winner.
Ares ran the 1400m on the Short Course in 1min 23.21secs.