Trainer Shane Baertschiger captured his first Group 2 success after outsider Be Bee landed the $325,000 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) in style on Friday night.
The career milestone was fittingly achieved together with his stalwart owner Jerry Sung of Auric Stable who enjoyed a highly successful association with his father Don over many years, and has kept up the support with the son until now.
Since Baertschiger took over his father, to whom he was assistant-trainer during his formative years, after he retired in 2012, he has captured four ‘black type’ wins, but all at Group 3 level – Kranji Sprint (El Milagro), Causeway Classic Stakes (One Rar), Garden City Trophy (Faaltless) and Colonial Chief Stakes (Best Tothelign).
Be Bee (John Powell) kicks clear en route to a facile victory in the Aushorse Golden Horseshoe, picture Singapore Turf Club
From the emotional hugs Baertschiger shared with Sung – who himself has not basked in Group glory since the Cliff Brown-trained Absolutely won the Group 3 Three Rings Trophy in February 2015 – and his wife Lana at the winner’s circle, it was obvious Be Bee ($106) had provided the Australian handler with a special moment he would cherish for a long time to come.
“Thanks to Jerry Sung who has paid a lot of money for this horse. The horse was probably overs but it’s not easy to back up 10 days later and it was only his second start,” said Baertschiger.
“But he’s always shown us a lot from Day 1. JP (John Powell) has done a lot with him, but unfortunately could not ride him at his debut as he had 50kgs in a 2yo and 3yo race (Barend Vorster rode him).
“It’s good he was able to ride him and win the big race with him tonight. He had him in a great spot saving ground on the rails, the horse misstrode coming to the turn, but he quickened up good after that.
“He will now go for the Juvenile Championship in three weeks’ time.”
The Group 3 Juvenile Championship is the second big race for two-year-olds and will be for the first time run over 1400m (stepped up from 1200m). It is scheduled for July 30.
Baertschiger also praised the level of competitiveness among the two-year-olds this year.
“Tonight’s Aushorse was one of the best quality fields we’ve ever seen,” he said.
“After the Strangles outbreak, we could not buy a lot of two-year-olds but the quality has improved since, and it’s great for our racing.”
A fighting head winner at his debut in a Restricted Maiden race, Be Bee was always considered among the live chances in the sixth and final Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series, but had somehow not garnered much support despite drawing barrier No 1.
Most of the spotlight had been cast on the likes of favourite Mr Hanks and second favourite Ferocious, two juveniles who, just like Be Bee, were also one-from-one, but presumably captured the imagination a little more from the bigger margins of their victories.
But it would seem Be Bee had also thrived since his debut win, and that economical run he enjoyed for most of the 1200m trip went a long way towards a sizzling show of sheer power in the home straight.
Charger (Glen Boss) who took up the running from his handy barrier looked to still have plenty of petrol left in the tank upon straightening, but had no answer to Be Bee’s explosive turn of foot.
Angled off the heels of Bringer Of War (Derreck David) and Captain Jamie (Nooresh Juglall) just before the point of the turn, Be Bee quickly slid up to Charger, who did mount a response, but when Be Bee changed through his gears inside the last furlong, the name of the seventh victor of the yearly juvenile feature race could already be inked.
The son of Showcasing dashed away from Charger to eventually post a space of 1 ¾ lengths in between, with Bringer Of War sticking on manfully for third place another 1 ½ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 10.41secs.
Powell was in awe as he watched the TV replay on the giant screen.
“He had a lovely run though the race and he sprinted nicely to draw clear in the straight,” said the heavyweight Australian jockey.
“It was his first time on grass and there were a lot of horses who got lost. But he ran away from them once he flattened out and won really well.
“I’ve worked this horse from Day 1 and he always showed good ability. He was well prepared by Stretch and the team.”
Trainer James Peters was obviously disappointed with $12 favourite Mr Hanks’ (Vlad Duric) 10th place, never really threatening after breaking from his wide alley (13).
“The wide draw didn’t help matters. Still, he was disappointing as he didn’t perform up to his first run, he didn’t let down the way I thought he would,” said the British trainer.
“I’ll see how he pulls up. He may go for the 1400m race. He ran with blinkers in New Zealand and I have that up his sleeve.
“Maybe it was also the second-up syndrome, but he’s definitely a far better horse than what he showed tonight. He was beaten by horses he beat at his last run.
“I’ll have to tweak a few things around for the Juvenile Championship – if he gets there.”
With Be Bee not eligible for the $80,000 bonus up for grabs being a New Zealand-bred, it was Charger, who is a qualified horse, who was the recipient since he had won the most prizemoney during the Series.