Ancient Warrior wins another battle but in Stewards' room

The sparingly-raced Ancient Warrior took his healthy career record to three wins and two placings in 10 starts after he landed the $60,000 Class 4 Division 2 race over 1200m in the Stewards’ room on Friday.

The son of Iffraaj looked home and hosed when he burst clear of the pack at the 300m, but suddenly rolled out the moment his jockey Shafiq Rizuan pulled his whip to his left hand. In so doing, he bumped with the fast-finishing Southern Spur (Vlad Duric), who took a check and thereafter could not make up the deficit, which came down to one length in the end.

A confident-looking Duric marched straight up to the hearing room upon dismounting, but his objection was, however, overruled, meaning newly-licensed trainer Saimee Jumaat will have to wait for another day for that first winner milestone.

Ancient Warrior (Shafiq Rizuan) has improved by leaps and bounds for trainer Mark Walker, picture Singapore Turf Club

Trainer Mark Walker acknowledged there was interference between the two leading protagonists – Southern Spur was the $16 favourite while Ancient Warrior was the second favourite at $19 - but he firmly believed his ward was never going to get beaten either way.

“He is very green that’s for sure. Last time on Polytrack he shifted in and that’s why Shafiq had his whip in his left hand,” said the cuurent leading trainer.

“But tonight on turf, he did the opposite, he shifted out when Shafiq hit him with his left hand. So, he’s a hard horse to work out at times.

“Vlad never stopped pushing even after that, which means it did not really take his momentum, and my horse was always hitting the line strongly.”

To Walker, Ancient Warrior was a late bloomer who is finally realising his true potential at Kranji. At this stage, he said he was still a bit of a rough diamond, especially with his tendency to hang in and out under pressure, and it was his raw ability that has seen him come to the fore.

“He is lightly-raced and weighs around 580kgs. He’s a big horse who’s taken a while to come together,” he said.

“He is owned by Greg McCarthy who sits on the New Zealand Racing Board and wanted to race a horse in Singapore. He bred this one and he has certainly had some success with him.”

With that third win, Ancient Warrior has taken his stakes earnings past the $110,000 mark for Mr McCarthy.