Bold frontrunner Marine Treasure sprang a mini-upset by going from pillar to post in the $100,000 Mr Big 2013 Stakes, a Class 2 race over 1200m at Kranji on Sunday.
Most would speculate that the $45 payout to his backers might not have eventuated if Grand Cross (Noh Senari) did not carry odds-on favourite Mister Yeoh (Barend Vorster) off the track inside the last furlong, but take nothing away from the Manhattan Rain six-year-old who ran his own race and dug deep when the chips were down.
Champion Hong Kong apprentice jockey Matthew Poon certainly takes a fair share of the credit for the way he steadied up the ship and gave his mount a breather mid-race, before going flat to the boards at the 300m marker.
Marine Treasure (Matthew Poon) bounces back to his best in Race 5, picture Singapore Turf Club
As the 10-horse field packed up by the home turn, odds-on favourite Mister Yeoh (Barend Vorster) looked all set to pounce despite being posted three deep for most of the way.
Marine Treasure showed he was in no mood to abdicate so easily though, even with the resuming Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic winner and Grand Cross forming a stinging double-barrelled assault down the middle of the track.
But just when the momentum was swinging towards the duelling pair, a moment of waywardness from one of the pair effectively put both of them out the race.
In his attempt to get the best out of Grand Cross, Noh pulled his stick through to the left hand, but his mount shifted out abruptly from that point onwards, dragging Mister Yeoh out along with him to the grandstand side.
That unexpected late twist in the tale left Marine Treasure plotting a lone path along the rails, all the way towards a half-a-length win from Biraz (Wong Chin Chuen), who incidentally also profited from the parting of the sea from the two rudderless horses.
Despite the unfortunate setback, Mister Yeoh still plugged on bravely another half-a-length away, to eventually get the measure of Grand Cross by a nose. The winning time was 1min 9.29secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.
“I was worried about the wide draw (outermost in 10). I thought it would make it harder for him, but he jumped very well and found the lead quite easily,” said Poon.
“I was just hoping he would stay on. In the straight, I saw from the corner of my eye the other horses shifting out, I was like is this for real?
“If that didn’t happen, I don’t think I would have won.”
Baertschiger agreed that Marine Treasure, who had not found the line for almost a year, was a lucky winner. He added that he was the least-fancied runner of a trio which also comprised Dignhu Mountain ($31) and Dutrow ($72), but “funny things happen in racing”.
“To be fair, he probably won when the other two ran off the track,” said the Australian handler.
“Out of the three horses I had, I gave him the least chance as he is more prolific on the Polytrack, but funny things happen in racing.”
Marine Treasure has now taken his prizemoney level edging close to the $290,000 mark with that fifth win for the Arc Marine/Premier Racing Stable.