Favourite Major Tom did not let his punters down with a gallant win in the $75,000 Novice race over 1400m on Sunday.
Victorious for the first time at his fourth outing, the Mark Walker-trained galloper was considered a top chance to double the dose, even if the field comprised many other promising sorts like Mr Fatkid, Country Quack, Siam Gemstone and Southern Glory, all recent winners.
Major Tom did oblige, but it was far from being a cosy run to the line, especially the last two furlongs. The $13 top pick gave the impression he would walk in when jockey Shafiq Rizuan was seen barely moving a muscle as he was peeled out three wide at the top of the straight to draw on level terms with Makanani (Derreck David), the Japanese filly who beat him two starts back.
Major Tom (Shafiq Rizuan) gets the better of the hooded Makanani (Derreck David) in Race 3, picture Singapore Turf Club
But Makanani proved harder to shake off than thought. Under David’s urgings, she rallied again, and for a second, the tables might not be turned, but Shafiq was in an unrelenting mood as he punched his mount right out to prevail by a short head at the wire.
Mr Fatkid (Michael Rodd) burst clear late to run third another 1 ¾ lengths away, sending a clear message he couldn’t wait to be stepped up to the mile. The winning time was 1min 22.48secs for the 1400m journey on the Long Course.
Walker praised Shafiq for a positive ride on Major Tom, and was glad the Fortuna NZ Racing Stable-owned galloper had scored again even if he was not the finished article yet.
“It was a good positive ride from Shafiq. He bided his time and they duly scored even if it was not by a big margin,” said the current leading trainer who added another win later with Clutha Lad (Gerald Mosse) to sit on 21 winners, two clear of reigning champion Alwin Tan.
“When you look at him in the parade ring, he’s still a big burly horse. We haven’t really tightened the screws on him but he certainly has a lot of upsides.”
Walker does have the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge in mind for the son of Darci Brahma but cautioned he would need to keep going through his grades to earn a berth.
“He will not run in the first Leg (Sprint over 1200m), he will go to the 1400m and 1600m Legs,” he said.
“But he has to peak at the right time for these races.”
The Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic (1400m) is due on April 14 while the Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m) will be run a month later on May 14.
Shafiq, who had made Major Tom one of his specials for the weekend, was not too worried the win looked laboured.
“He’s still very green, and in his trackwork as well, he is not an easy horse to ride,” said Shafiq.
“Even though he had to fight hard today, he won on raw ability. He had to be used up early to get in a good spot and that probably took something out of him in the end.
“When he hit the front, he kept looking around as well. There is still some improvement to come out of him.”
Major Tom has now taken his record to two wins and one second from five starts for stakes earnings that is now fast approaching the $100,000 mark.