Trainer Lee Freedman thought he would have to settle for second best again when favourite Foresto was swamped inside the last 200m on Sunday, but debutant Mr Dujardin came with a storming run on the outside to hand him his first 2018 winner.
The Australian Hall of Fame trainer has had a frustrating start to the new season with five placings from 12 runners, including Augustano’s nose second to Golden Sword on Friday as the latest runner-up prize to pile on his misery.
But at least Freedman knew the horses were running well, and it was with a certain optimism that he saddled Foresto (Glen Boss) in Sunday’s $20,000 Open Maiden race over 1600m. That confidence grew even further when the Thai-owned (same connections as Augustano) Excelebration three-year-old hit the front at the top of the straight, after coming off a perfect trailing spot outside leader Cape Lincoln.
Newcomer Mr Dujardin (Matthew Kellady) bolts in for a debut win on Sunday, picture Singapore Turf Club
Given his full head by Boss, Foresto was being hailed as the Freedman opener, but to the camp’s dismay, he shortened up as the winning post came within his sights.
Down the middle, Ace Harbour (Barend Vorster) gathered him in rather easily. But that was also the moment Freedman realised he might after all break his duck when the less-fancied Mr Dujardin (Matthew Kellady, $89), who had come from last, started to lengthen up on the outside.
In one fell swoop, the Oscar Racing Stable-owned High Chaparral three-year-old sprouted wings to go and score a sensational one-length win from Ace Harbour with Foresto third another half-a-length away. The winning time was 1min 36.26secs for the 1600m on the Long Course.
“I thought Foresto was home! The other horse finished like a shot, maybe that’s the best way to ride him,” said Freedman.
“Laurie Laxon owns a share in him. I actually told Laurie he would be better off in New Zealand on soft ground as we don’t have enough long distance races here, like a mile or 1 ¼ miles.
“It’s a bit of a surprise he won first-up. He won on the mile today but he definitely needs longer.”
Kellady was just as stunned as the trainer with Mr Dujardin’s blistering sectionals inside the last 200m, especially as he never got an inkling of such an asset in his barrier trials.
“He trialled one-paced and that’s why I thought maybe he should go forward,” said the Ipoh-born jockey.
“But he didn’t muster any speed and he kept getting shuffled back. I just decided to ride him where he was comfortable.
“From the 600m, he started picking up but at the 300m, I thought he might run second, but he just flew in.”