Newcomer Tun O’Reilly defied the average impression he had left at the barrier trials by getting on the scoresheet in brilliant fashion right at his first race on Friday.
The strapping three-year-old by deceased New Zealand stallion O’Reilly (his second last crop) ran second at his first, but in a slow time, and at his second one, ran a distant seventh, going some way to explaining his lukewarm $47 odds in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1100m.
On face value, most would lean towards a few more runs before the engine gets into full swing, but both trainer Shane Baertschiger and jockey John Powell had an inkling there could be more to those non-descript hit-outs.
Tun O'Reilly (John Powell) strides away from the pack to score on debut in Race 2, picture Singapore Turf Club
“He actually trialled good. The only thing at his second trial was that he was 10 out of 10 and he had to drop back and work around horses to come home,” said Baertschiger.
“He’s a big bugger at 550kgs, and definitely needs more ground, but the fast pace played into his hands. I’ve always had a high opinion of him.
“Every piece of work he’s done, every gallop he does, he just keeps improving.”
Being the one who actually sat aboard Tun O’Reilly at the two barrier trials, astute horseman Powell somehow had a hunch he could unlock his potential early.
“He wants more ground. At his first trial, there were only six horses and they didn’t run time, and at his second, he was drawn wide,” said the Australian hoop.
“He’s got big strides and I just took him back. It looked average but I think he learned a lot from the second trial because he didn’t get any kickback and was less field-shy.
“Today, he just tucked in behind the speed and was always travelling very well. Once I peeled him to the outside, to my surprise, he put in quite well.”
Eastiger (Michael Rodd) was getting tackled by Antheia (Barend Vorster), D’Great Star (Saifudin Ismail) and White Truffle (Craig Grylls) halfway up the straight, but Tun O’Reilly ($47) who sports the green and black colours of Faaltless’s MA Racing Stable, came with an unstoppable run on the outside to salute by one length from D’Great Star with Antheia third another half-length away.
The winning time was 1min 5.62secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack.