Bold front runner White Hunter is always dangerous when he gets his own way at the head of affairs, and despite his rivals’ attempt to peg him pack, that was the tune that was again played out in the $100,000 Open Benchmark 83 race over 1400m on Friday.
The Fastnet Rock five-year-old is a typical hard-going sort but he does not quite go breaking hearts with stifling sectionals from go to whoa. He has just stuck to the same simple template at all his previous four wins – roll, sit and sprint home.
Jockey Glen Boss, who was at only his second pairing (they finished second last time out when caught by Lim’s Samurai in a Kranji Stakes C race over 1400m as well) with the James Peters-trained sprinter, was not going to break new ground from the nice low barrier they drew.
White Hunter (Glen Boss, on the inside) digs deep to fend off the fast-closing Lim's Samurai
(Manoel Nunes) in the Open Benchmark 83 race, picture Singapore Turf Club
Shooting straight to the berth he knows best – the driving seat – White Hunter ($40) led the 11-horse field at a steady tempo before upping the ante shortly after straightening up.
It was soon clear that his favourite tactics of being ridden for luck in front might have fooled his rivals again, even if the backmarkers were not all that far away.
Some were clearly already in trouble, though. After trucking up in handy spots, both Super Six (Alan Munro) and Royal Ruler (Nooresh Juglall) looked flat-footed, but his last-start conqueror and $16 favourite Lim’s Samurai (Manoel Nunes) was still a clear and present danger, albeit more laboured in the manner he was trying to put an indent into the margin.
Boss could not ask for more as he kept punching the Galileo Stable-owned gelding to the line. He would have probably felt Lim’s Samurai pouncing on him like a rush inside the last 100m, but a short head split the pair on the photo print.
Robin Hood gave a glimpse of his old form when he steamed home late for third place another three-quarter length away. The winning time was 1min 21.89secs for the 1400m on the Long Course.
Peters said White Hunter, who began his career under the care of his former boss, the Hong Kong-bound Michael Freedman, is just hard to topple when he gets an uncontested lead.
“He’s always been a very good horse, but he likes to have his own way upfront. I was happy when No 12 (Sun Hoplites) came off as he would have put some pressure on us,” said Peters.
“Bossy rode him well, he was able to give him a breather midrace. The second horse is a decent horse and White Hunter did well to hold him off.
“He’s now won five races for his owners, which is great. He’s been a very good moneyspinner.”
Boss echoed Peters’ sentiments about White Hunter’s resilience for as long as he can hold the fort, but also how he can also buckle the moment the pressure gets too hot.
“This horse has been showing great form for quite a while. He’s been showing respectable form against respectable opposition,” said the Australian jockey.
“But he is always vulnerable because of the way he runs. Tonight, we were lucky we were able to get a couple of soft sectionals and he relaxed very well for me.
“We were over the Long Course, but he was brave all the way to the line.”
With that fifth win under the belt, White Hunter has now amassed more than $260,000 in stakes earnings for his connections.