Comeback kid War Affair has been a frequent sight on the training tracks of late, but trainer Bruce Marsh did not seem to be in a hurry to set a first-up date for the champion.
If he had found one, he was being coy about it.
After two creditable runs in the first two Legs of the Singapore Triple Crown series last year, when fourth in the Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile (1600m) and third in the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1800m), both won by Debt Collector, the 2014 Singapore Horse of the Year was withdrawn from the last Leg, the Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) in November.
Danny Beasley was aboard at War Affair's last win on September 29, 2016, picture Singapore Turf Club
A wind problem was the latest setback to a glittering and yet injury-plagued career for the six-year-old son of O’Reilly, a stakes earner of close to $3 million.
Marsh duly sent the Ong family’s ace galloper for a wind op, and it’s only recently that the handsome brown gelding made his reappearance on the training tracks, partnered by jockey Danny Beasley for most of the time.
“He’s going well. He’s been doing fast work for a while now,” said the Kiwi handler.
“He will be trialling soon. I haven’t really decided on his comeback race.
“The most important thing right now is he is over his respiratory problem and has come along well.”
While Beasley is leaving all the decision-making to Marsh and the Ongs, he sure was sounding very upbeat about the horse he has teamed up with to six of his 15 wins, including the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge clean sweep when he was then under the care of trainer Alwin Tan.
“He is quite well. I’ve done a lot of work with him, riding him every morning whether it’s slow work or fast work,” said the Australian jockey who captured the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) with Lim’s Cruiser last Sunday.
“He looks really good, he’s had around four to five gallops, including today. At his last prep when he came back after a break, he was quite big, but he is definitely closer to his racing weight now.
“His wind problem is behind him, though we don’t really know with such issues until they come under pressure in a real race.
“I’m not sure what Bruce has decided for him. It’s not easy to find a race for highly-rated horses like War Affair (115) as they always get a lot of weight, maybe it’ll be the big races towards the end of the year.”
In the meantime, the Marsh-Ong-Beasley combination will be trying to fly the purple colours high this Sunday with Laser Storm in the $100,000 Open Benchmark 83 race over 1200m.
Beasley, who was the winning jockey at two of Laser Storm’s eight wins when he was then trained by Tan, was a little hesitant about a return to winning ways for the Lucky Owners six-year-old since he dead-heated with Super Winner last August.
“He’s a funny horse. In the last couple of months, he’s been going really well in the morning, but on raceday, he leaves a lot to be desired,” said Beasley.
“He put in one of the workouts of the morning the other day, and I think the conditions of Sunday’s look better for him this time.
“At his last start, he dropped in class but carried a lot of weight (59kgs), but this Sunday he’s in Benchmark 83 again and has only 56.5kgs. Hopefully he can finish in the money.”