Old stager Golden Curl ducked and weaved through the field at the right time to go and capture the $125,000 Kranji Stakes A race over 1400m on Sunday.
At long odds of $158, the Pentire eight-year-old was the rank-outsider in the small nine-horse field, but proved the doubters wrong when he produced the best finish inside the last 400m to pick up his ninth career win for his owner Paul Hickman of St George Stable.
Dropped back at the rear, but enjoying a ground-saving run on the rails, ahead of just Blue Swede (Matthew Kellady) for most of the race, Golden Curl only started to warm up to the task the moment apprentice jockey Wong Chin Chuen started to stoke him up from the 400m.
Golden Curl (Wong Chin Chuen) bursts through the pack to claim Race 9, picture Singapore Turf Club
The old boy, however, looked to have the job ahead with galloping room in short supply between the weakening Royal Ruler (Nooresh Juglall) and Laser Storm (Shafiq Rizuan) at the 300m, while race-leader White Hunter (Alan Munro) was still firing on all cylinders against the steel upfront.
But Wong was well inspired shortly afterwards when he ducked right back to the inside, a spot Daniel (Glen Boss) was also vying for at that moment a few lengths astern, but Golden Curl got there first and with only 50kgs on his back, he sprouted wings through the saloon passage that suddenly opened up to him.
Blue Swede was also finishing like a mail train on the outside, but Golden Curl, who was in receipt of four kilos from his challenger, did not have to toil too hard to preserve a half-length advantage at the wire. Mr Fantastic (Barend Vorster) ran third another half-a-length away. The winning time was a smart 1min 21.41secs for the 1400m on the Short Course.
With winning trainer Stephen Gray attending a wedding and unable to be at the races on Sunday, it was left to his media manager Gareth Pepper to deliver the spiel on one of the stable favourites.
“Golden Curl is a remarkable horse, he is a nine-time winner now and has been a great horse for Paul of St George Stable,” said the South African former Singapore Turf Club racing commentator.
“The weight helped him, but he’s such a honest horse. At home, he is one of the better-looking horses, just looking at his condition and his coat. It was also a good ride by ‘Jimmy’ CC Wong.”
The reigning Singapore champion apprentice jockey modestly said he only listened to the riding instructions, and the brave chestnut just did the rest.
“I’ve got on this horse a couple of times (actually aboard at his last win in January), and we had a bit of luck today,” said the Penang-born rider.
“He always gives 100% and is a simple horse to ride. I was on the inside in the straight and just waited for the gap.
“We got tightened up a bit but once he saw daylight, he gave a very good kick.”