Larry Foley: Reigning Singapore champion jockey Vlad Duric starts his title defence on Saturday 16 January at the third race meeting of the current season.
There is a long way to go in the marathon that is a calendar year of riding and Duric will be keen to assert his dominance yet again despite missing the first two meetings due to suspension.
Title contender Ruan Maia – who finished only three wins behind Duric in 2020 – has made the most of the early opportunity, clinching five wins. Duric will undoubtedly be keen to peg back a win or two on Saturday.
As expected, both riders have plenty of good rides with perhaps Well Deserved (Race 1), Malibu Beach (Race 2), Siam Warrior (Race 7) and My Big Boss (Race 10) looking Duric’s best, while Maia will be hoping Hyde Park (Race 1), Be You (Race 4), Asaad (Race 8) and Super Dynasty (Race 9) can add to his total.
But Super Dynasty is up against a very smart type in Mr Malek in the Class 2 event over 1400m and the Lee Freedman stable-mates should put on a terrific show.
Mr Malek probably starts favourite, given his recent second placing behind Inferno in the Group 1 Lion City Cup and the four-year-old can add another win to his impressive career record that now stands at six wins and three placing’s from nine starts.
Elsewhere on the card, impressive debut winner Starlight is up against a couple of very capable types in Infinite Wisdom and Be You in Race 4 and the Novice event over 1200m looks a cracker with the winner likely to have a big say in the upcoming Three-Year-Old series.
Selections: 2 HYDE PARK; 3 PLANTER; 4 WELL DESERVED; 1 BLACK QUAIL.
A top-heavy Class 5 Poly sprint to open the card and as is often the case, a Class dropper looks the one to beat. HYDE PARK did disappoint last start in Class 4 but he did do it tough on that occasion and his previous effort has him under serious notice with Maia on board. Vlad Duric has his first ride in 2021 and the Champion jockey will be hoping WELL DESERVED can show his best after he was well beaten into third last start. Blinkers added suggests he is right in this. BLACK QUAIL and PLANTER both get 3kg claims with Hakim and Iskandar respectively and while BLACK QUAIL could look the winner at some stage late, PLANTER drops in grade, gets blinkers and is trialling well enough to win this. RED CLAW and WINNING LEGEND two more that can win without surprising. Betting strategy: PLANTER Eachway if value.
Selections: 7 MALIBU BEACH; 11 SUPREME FIGHTER; 1 HAPPY FRIDAY; 12 THE ARCHER.
A tricky maiden with some obvious picks up against some big improvers; and a debutante some hope to beat them all. The debutante is the US-bred MALIBU BEACH and the four-year-old has certainly trialled well enough to go close on debut with Duric a factor from gate 2. The obvious pick is HAPPY FRIDAY who has his foot on the till and gets his chance from gate 3, while QIJI FLYER is honest and should figure with Beuzelin up. It gets interesting from here with SUPREME FIGHTER looking no hope on race form but worth another look on trial form with the more experienced Troy See to ride, while THE ARCHER was disappointing last start but placed on debut on the Poly behind a handy type in Relentless and that form should hold up here. Keep the emergency MIGHTY VAIN very safe if he gets a start. Betting strategy: SUPREME FIGHTER value win.
Selections: 7 HAPPY SATURDAY; 6 WAR FRONTIER; 1 BRIGHT ALMIGHTY; 2 KHARISMA.
Barriers often make a difference and two horses that very much appreciate better gates today is HAPPY SATURDAY and WAR FRONTIER. The former did super from a wide alley to place last start and given he is showing a liking to the Polytrack, he could be hard to hold out from gate 3. WAR FRONTIER was never involved last start but from gate 1 he can show his best, which should be up to this grade. Of the others, KHARISMA is in form and gets every chance from gate 2, while BRIGHT ALMIGHTY first up after a long spell is trialling well and should figure on best form. Maia on last start placegetter BASILISK also comes under consideration, as do both emergencies. Betting strategy: HAPPY SATURDAY win.
Selections: 11 STARLIGHT; 12 BE YOU; 10 INFINITE WISDOM; 1 BRUTUS.
Novice events often throw up above average fields and while this race may lack depth, it doesn’t lack quality with three very handy three-year-olds in INFINITE WISDOM, STARLIGHT and BE YOU taking part. Anyone could start favourite but the last start winner in STARLIGHT probably gets the most support given the ease on which he won on debut. This race is a tougher ask though and INFINITE WISDOM just missed in the Golden Horseshoe and that form has held up, while BE YOU backed up his good debut win with a close up placing in Class 4 and he should have a big say here with Maia up. Of the rest, BRUTUS has won at Novice conditions previously and looked to have some in hand last start so looks the value pick, while the newcomer from Australia – STENMARK – has won both local trials so has to be respected with the market best guide. PROSPEROUS RETURN on debut and THE BROTHERHOOD two others to watch. Betting strategy: Box 10, 11 and 12 in any exotics.
Selections: 13 CATCH THE TIGER; 1 WHERE SHE’S HAPPY; 10 GIANT KILLING; 11 NAJAH.
The best horse in this Class 5 field is the first emergency CATCH THE TIGER so obviously scratchings will have a big say on the betting in this 1700m event. The five-year-old dropped to Class 5 last start and while he didn’t place, he had excuses not to finish closer to the winner and had support, so happy to follow with blinkers added for good measure. But as it stands, WHERE SHE’S HAPPY looks well placed from gate 3 to break her maiden status and probably start favourite with Marc Lerner retaining the ride. NAJAH broke a long losing streak last start in a similar affair to this and he has to be respected with TSURIAN and GIANT KILLING finishing second and third respectively in that same race so should figure. HOSAYLIAO placed last start and will be running on, while SCOOTER appreciates the better gate and could give a sight. Betting strategy: CATCH THE TIGER win if he gets a start; WHERE SHE’S HAPPY win.
Selections: 2 DECRETO; 9 DAVID’S STAR; 10 WINNING HAMMER; 5 MARINE VANGUARD
With some speeders drawn to advantage, this race should be handles-down from go to whoa which will give DECRETO every chance to knock in another win. The seven–year-old had excuses not to win last start and Troy See should get a cushy run behind the speedsters and be best late. Of the speedsters, DAVID’S STAR is usually found out late but his recent trial form is good and Ruan Maia on a frontrunner does appeal. The maiden PERFECT ME is another speed influence and could bother DAVID’S STAR, while another maiden in MARINE VANGUARD could be the big improver at odds at his first start in Class 5. Of the others with winning chances, WINNING HAMMER could surprise from gate 1 with no weight, while the veteran HOST THE NATION has to be respected. Betting strategy: DECRETO win.
Selections: 11 SOLAR ECLIPSE; 4 SIAM WARRIOR; 2 MAKKEM LAD; 6 BLUESTONE
Nothing jumps off the page to win this Class 3 turf sprint so, while up in Class, a last start winner in SOLAR ECLIPSE is worth following. The former Argentinean is first up after winning well enough in Class 4 Company at his second Singapore start but a recent smart trial suggests he is up to this and gate 5 with Harry Kassim up looks a good combination. The other last start winner in the 14 confirmed starters is MAKEEM LAD and with a canny 3kg claim, he carries 0.5kg less than he did winning in similar company so he has to be a big show. Some of the others with winning hopes are coming off just fair (or even poor) runs but SIAM WARRIOR is in form and gets Duric, BLUESTONE gets blinkers and Chavez and SIAM ROYAL ORCHID gets gate 1 and will improve. Go wide in exotics. Betting strategy: SOLAR ECLIPSE win.
Selections: 2 ASAAD; 1 CARIBBEAN LADY; 11 MATSURIBAYASHI; 10 LADY FAST
While we may look at something to back at value on the day, ASAAD looks the one to beat and punters will be jumping on in droves. The five-year-old is on the quick back-up after a solid placing over the mile on the Poly and there’s no reason he doesn’t make the running with Maia up. Whoever beats him, wins. Hideyuki Takaoka may be the trainer to do it. The master has two runners (and one emergency) and both CARIBBEAN LADY and MATSURIBAYASHI could easily surprise on best form. CARIBBEAN LADY should try to lead and with the experienced Beuzelin from gate 2, she could give a sight. MATSURIBAYASHI comes through the same race as ASAAD and looked to have some in hand so he can improve with no weight from gate 1. Of the others that can win, LADY FAST is honest and has shown she is up to this company, while CAPTAIN SINGAPORE improved to place last start and gets Chavez so worth thought. Betting strategy: CARIBBEAN LADY Eachway.
Selections: 3 MR MALEK; 6 SUPER DYNASTY; 10 LIM’S CRAFT; 9 CHURCHILL
Plenty of good horses in this race but MR MALEK and SUPER DYNASTY will dominate the betting and whoever gets the gun run or is having a good day should win. MR MALEK is first up after running second to INFERNO in the Lion City Cup and given he has six wins from nine starts (his other defeats on debut on Poly and again to Inferno at Group level) and comes off a eye-catching trial, he is the one to beat. In saying that, SUPER DYNASTY won one of these three starts back and won on the Poly at Group level at his last start, so form is not an issue and he has the early speed to overcome the wide gate and make his own luck. The rest that can win on recent good form all come through the same Kranji Stakes A race over this trip where LIM’S CRAFT beat CHURCHILL and MAGIC WAND (emergency) and all three should play a part. Keep MURAAHIB safe on best form in what is a suitable race. Betting strategy: MR MALEK strong win.
Selections: 1 MY BIG BOSS; 7 LIM’S BESTBREAKER; 3 LEGEND OF THE SUN; 2 FLAK JACKET
A hard race for pundits is the lucky last with two horses in LEGEND OF THE SUN and LIM’S BESTBREAKER coming off eye-catching runs, the two emergencies with winning hopes and a veteran in FLAK JACKET looking due. But it might be Vlad Duric on MY BIG BOSS who sends punters home happy. The five-year-old had excuses last start (saddle slipped) and the race looks suitable to get back into the winners circle sans blinkers. But LIM’S BESTBREAKER had excuses not to go even closer (or win) in a similar affair last start and his work late has him under notice, as it does LEGEND OF THE SUN who gets the experienced Beuzelin. As mentioned, keep both emergencies in HEADHUNTER and LIM’S ZOOM very safe if they get a start as both can win and FLAK JACKET could give a sight with luck from the wide gate. Betting strategy: MY BIG BOSS win.
Race 7: 2, 4, 6, 7, 11
Race 8: 1, 2
Race 9: 3, 6
Race 10: 1, 2, 3, 7, 13