A pair of shades is being thrown on Mr Exchequer in a bid to sharpen up the Singapore Derby prospect in the prelude, the $1 million Group 1 Giovanni Racing Charity Bowl (1600m) this Sunday.
The son of Savabeel has talent in spades but can sometimes cost himself his races with sloppy getaways. For instance, at the last of his four wins in a Class 3 race over 1800m on March 9, he jumped awkwardly and got shuffled back further than planned, but still poked his head in front where it mattered.
Next time out, the MA Racing Stable-owned gelding wasn’t so lucky. He again did not jump on terms, had a chequered run in the straight to finish seventh to eventual Singapore Guineas (1600m) hero Mr Clint.
Mr Exchequer launches his Singapore Derby bid in the Charity Bowl this Sunday, picture Singapore Turf Club
Mr Exchequer may get away with such rough edges in lesser races, but not so when he is launched onto his Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge trail towards the Holy Grail on July 15, the $1.15 million Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (1800m).
Blinkers may not necessarily be the answer, but trainer Shane Baertschiger was happy with the way he trialled with them last Thursday.
With race-rider John Powell astride, Mr Exchequer followed in the slipstream of the leading bunch before being scrubbed up late to close off nicely for third to Scorpio (Glen Boss).
“He trialled good with the blinkers on last week. He actually had blinkers on in the Guineas last year, but he drew nine from 10,” said Baertschiger in reference to his unplaced run in the third Leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge won by Forever Young.
“The mile is a bit sharp for him. He’ll be better over 1800m.
“I’m putting the blinkers back on him just to sharpen him up. I’ll see how he goes with them this week before deciding if he keeps them in the Derby.”
Mr Exchequer did not run in the first Leg, not only because the 1400m of the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup was too short, but the time between runs as well.
“When they moved the Derby and the Patron’s Bowl (now the Charity Bowl) by a week, the Stewards’ Cup remained as it was. The two-week gap between the first two Legs was too close,” explained Baertschiger.
“He’s had more time to get ready for the second Leg and will still have three weeks to the Derby. The horse is well and we can only hope for a bit of luck in the running.”
No doubt Baertschiger has enjoyed a bit of that in reaching the top of the Singapore trainer’s premiership this year – 30 winners, two clear of Lee Freedman – but he also needs to have the right tools to get there: Good horses and solid teamwork.
But racing aside, what the Australian certainly does not lack in is a benevolent streak. He donated $10,000 as part of the charity drive behind the renaming of the Patron’s Bowl to the Charity Bowl from this year onwards, earning the naming rights to Sunday’s penultimate race, the $80,000 Baertschiger Racing Kranji Stakes C race over 1800m.
Four other organisations have come on board to sponsor Races 5 to 8 as part of the Club’s aim to raise up to $200,000 through the sales of luncheon tables/seats and/or race naming, with all grants and donations to be channelled towards Community Chest Singapore in benefit of children with special needs and youth-at-risk.
The other four named races are now slated as the Association of Racehorse Trainers Singapore Class 3 race over 1400m, CA Transportation & Warehousing P/L Kranji Stakes A race over 1400m, KF1 Karting Circuit Class 4 Non Premier race over 1600m, and, of course, the Giovanni Racing Charity Bowl itself.
Baertschiger said that there was no better platform for such good causes than a day at the races.
“When I received the email from the Club about the Charity Race Day, I had a cheque ready the next day,” said Baertschiger who saddles Chocolats in the name he sponsors.
“It would be great if Chocolats wins – it’d be interesting to see how I hand the trophy to myself!”
If there is one of the four other sponsored races Baertschiger stands a good chance of being at the receiving end of the silverware from someone else, it would be the CA Transportation & Warehousing P/L Kranji Stakes A race over 1400m where he sends out a three-pronged assault made up of Preditor (Powell), Blue Swede (Matthew Kellady) and Best Tothelign (Emily Finnegan).
“Preditor ran enormous in the Kranji Mile. He would have finished closer if he had drawn a barrier,” said Baertschiger of the other son of Savabeel.
“At first, we thought of going forward from the wide barrier, but after looking at the speedmap, we decided to drop him back. It would have been a disaster if he had rolled forward, he would have been caught three to four deep throughout.
“He’s drawn wide again, but he’s also getting back from the mile to 1400m. He should run a good race.
“Blue Swede is Blue Swede. It’s too short, but you never know with him when he is in the mood.
“As for Best Tothelign, it’s been a long time since he drew a barrier. You can’t judge him on his last three runs as he drew ordinary.
“He’s well and hopefully he can give the Irish a winner!”
Baertschiger was taking a gentle dig at Australian-based Irish apprentice jockey Finnegan, who is at the second of her three weeks at Kranji as the Dux of the South Australian Apprentice Academy. The 25-year-old lass took her first three Singapore rides last weekend, coming up with a third place aboard longshot Solaris Spectrum for Baertschiger as her best result.
Last season’s Adelaide champion apprentice jockey is booked for six rides this weekend, two on Friday – Invincible Man and Red Symphony – and four on Sunday – Gol Goal, Best Tothelign, Oliver and Mr Mosa.
Baertschiger prepares four of them with the other two, Invincible Man trained by Leslie Khoo and Mr Mosa trained by Stephen Gray.
“Emily has a nice book of rides this week,” said Baertschiger who has been taking these visiting South Australian apprentice jockeys under his wings in the last five years, thanks to the close ties his assistant-trainer Scott Bailey, an ex-jockey in Adelaide, has with Thoroughbred Racing South Australia.
“Gol Goal has a good chance. He has been running well and he drew one in Sunday’s first race.”