Yulong Xiong Hu strikes at right time

Trainer Leslie Khoo can’t wait to test Yulong Xiong Hu over more ground following his gallant win on Friday night.

The Sebring four-year-old could not be faulted for the way he has been racing, but just kept finding one better – three times in a row since his first-up win back in February.

But a patient and well-judged ride from first-time partner Alan Munro in the $80,000 Class 3 race over 1800m finally helped him shed that bridesmaid tag. 

Yulong Xiong Hu (Alan Munro) keeps Gold Faith (Olivier Placais) at bay in the Class 3 race on Friday, picture Singapore Turf Club

The English jockey, however, thought his horse faced a tall order at the top of the straight when race-leader Marvel Hero opened up to a commanding break, but thankfully for him, the margin started to wear thin with each passing post.

Unfortunately, Marvel Hero misstrode at the 200m, unseating Lee Freedman’s young apprentice jockey Iskandar Rosman – who was later sent to hospital with a suspected fractured shoulder.

As dreadful as that fall might have looked, the race was over for the riderless horse, but not for the rest. Yulong Xiong Hu, Za’eem (Shafrizal Saleh) and Arctic Flow (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) were among the first to pounce, but the sharper turn of foot came from the former.

Grey flash and $155 shot Gold Faith (Olivier Placais) jumped out of the ground late, threatening to spoil the party for the $11 favourite, but Yulong Xiong Hu held sway by a neck. Arctic Flow ran third another 1 ¼ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 48.04secs for the 1800m on the Long Course.

“The fast pace suited him. I knew the leader would come back in the end,” said Khoo.

“I think Ryan Curatolo went too soon with him once. You’ve got to time his run properly.

“I told Alan not to hurry and he judged the pace very well. I’m quite confident this horse can go even further, up to 2000m.”

The former Darren Weir-trained gelding did race over long distances in Victoria where he won two races over 1600m and 1755m. He is the horse who provided emerging Chinese outfit Yu Long Stable its first win in Singapore on February 9.

“I was worried at the 400m. We were a bit far behind,” said the English hoop.

“Then the leader stopped and I thought we’ve got it, but then out came Gold Faith, a horse I know only too well (rode him at his first four starts, without winning, for David Hill).

“But my horse showed good heart, he put in a good fight.”

A winner of over A$50,000 in Australia, Yulong Xiong Hu has more than doubled those takings locally with stakes earnings having already shot past the $125,000 mark.