Champion trainer Mark Walker showed that his yard had not been mucking around during the December break after they brought up a training double from the 11-day programme on New Year’s Day on Monday.
After comfortably claiming his second Singapore title with 87 winners, a gap of 22 winners ahead of Ricardo Le Grange, the New Zealander was out of the starting blocks early with outsiders Big Regards ($104) and Hidden Promise ($97) saluting in Races 5 and 7 respectively.
Whether he can maintain the same momentum throughout the year remains to be seen, but the sheer consistency he showed last year coupled with the sheer volume of horses in his stable, there is no reason why he cannot be up there again.
Hidden Promise (Craig Grylls) storms home late to land the Class 3 race on Monday, picture Singapore Turf Club
“It’s a great start for sure,” said Walker who won five New Zealand premierships as well.
“Craig Grylls gave Hidden Promise a lovely ride, he works hard and he will do very well here. CK (Ng Choon Kiat) also rode Big Regards very well.
“Hidden Promise is a funny horse as he had six trials in New Zealand without finishing in the money but he’s really thrived here. He is a typical slow-maturing New Zealand-bred.
“He is a stayer and once he gets 2000m he will be even better. I think the inside draw (barrier No 3) has been very helpful today, it’s like gold.
“He got the gun run, even if it looked a little tight for room in the straight. It’s nice for John Galvin of Fortuna NZ Racing and a group of owners back in New Zealand.”
Grylls, who rode nine winners at his first five months in Singapore last year, was certainly delighted with the smashing start.
“I think I’ve settled in better and it’s great to get a double on the first day,” said the Kiwi hoop.
“The horse (Hidden Promise) travelled sweet throughout. He had nowhere to go in the straight, but once he found the gap, he charged through.”
With that fourth win in 15 starts, Hidden Promise takes his stakes earnings to around the $125,000 mark for the Fortuna NZ Racing Stable.