They may be rivals on the track, but off it, trainers Daniel Meagher and Alwin Tan showed the decorum expected of them when Absolute Miracle traded places.
The Strategic Maneuver five-year-old has been a more than useful conveyance for Tan at his 20 starts, winning three races (all over 1400m on turf) and collecting six placings for prizemoney just shy of the $200,000 mark.
Success has, however, eluded the horse who used to race for beauty care entrepreneur Mathilda Koh for close to a year now. At his last nine starts, the ‘unplaced’ column which used to read 2 has shot up to 10.
Absolute Miracle runs for new trainer in the Group 3 Fortune Bowl on Saturday, picture Singapore Turf Club
Few would argue that the old dash of his had slowly but surely ebbed away. A glimmer of hope returned at his last start, though, when a fast-finishing second for Olivier Placais to Eclipse Splash in a 1400m race on January 7.
The die had already been cast, though. Absolute Miracle had run his last race for Tan.
Meagher’s yard was the new home he was heading to, three blocks away, but the Australian handler said it was as if the migration came with manual included!
“Alwin has been absolutely fantastic in the way he has personally given me all the information and characteristics about Absolute Miracle, and I really appreciate that,” said Meagher.
“I’ve always got on fantastic with Alwin, who is a really good guy. He didn’t have to do what he did, but he did, and that’s all credit to him.
“Both Alwin and the owners felt the horse needed a change of scenery, of environment. He went off form a little even if his last run was really good, and he had no luck (slow at start and badly held up for most of the straight) at his previous run with Peter Ho.
“The horse came to me in great order, he looks terrific. I’ve had him for around four weeks and I really think the Fortune Bowl is a great starting point for him.”
Among his last nine unsuccessful starts, four of them came at the elite level in feature races. Originally thought as Group material, Absolute Miracle did not quite match up to the lofty ambitions, but neither was he beaten far out of his ground.
Meagher has picked another such race for his first runout under his care, the $200,000 Group 3 Fortune Bowl (1400m) this Saturday. The mission looks daunting again, but deep down, one can feel former leading Kranji trainer John Meagher’s youngest son, is not having just a wild stab in the dark.
“It’s a tough race, but on handicap, he is very well-weighted with only 51kgs on his back,” said Meagher.
“He trialled well the other day (fifth to Preditor on February 8), had a nice quiet time and has come out of it very well.
“I’m under no illusions there are better horses in the race, like Horse of the Year Infantry and Well Done, both Derby winners, not to mention Forever Young and Nova Strike.
“It’s obviously going to be tough, but I am confident he can step up to the mark.”
Meagher has entrusted the reins to a rider he has repeatedly described as not only a good friend but whose talent is so underutilised – Benny Woodworth.
The Malaysian jockey has been aboard all of Meagher’s five 2018 wins, except the last one, Natural Impulse who had another local jockey astride, Saifudin Ismail. Woodworth currently sits in fifth spot on the leaderboard on eight wins, the highest spot he has ever held in a long time at Kranji.
“Benny is as good as anyone in Singapore. He just needs the opportunities,” said Meagher who incidentally won his first Group race with the Woodworth-ridden Secret Win in the Group 3 El Dorado Classic (2200m) last October.
“Look what he can do when he gets on good horses. It’s no surprise he is doing so well this year.
“I just hope we draw a nice barrier so the horse can relax and settle behind the speed. He has a good turn of foot, and hopefully we get the results.”