S'pore 4YO Challenge is the champ's target
War Affair's impressive trial win yesterday was an ominous sign - that he was well on his way to staying at the top of the tree in the new season, featuring the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge as his main assignment.
Jockey Alan Munro, who has been working the son of O'Reilly in recent weeks, was as usual careful with his feedback, but there was no mistaking the wow factor in his general body language.
"He was smooth and going nicely in the straight. He did everything by himself as he is such a professional," said the English jockey.
"From the back, John Powell's horse (Red Dawn) took off around us and I got a cart across but then he drifted out wide and I went out wider than I wanted. But, in the straight, he showed how smart he was by leaning on him for a while before kicking clear.
"Once I changed hands, he just quickened up really well and did it ever so easily. Effortless is the word.
"I've been riding him for a while now and I can tell he's a lot more mature and physically stronger. Things are really looking great for him and everyone was really happy."
With trainer Alwin Tan away attending the Magic Millions Adelaide Yearling Sale, his stable supervisor Jason Ong was on hand to watch the family's (Warplan Racing Stable is owned by his parents) warrior take the trial into his stride.
"It was quite a good trial as he normally does not win his first trial. He was only 70 per cent fit and will probably need another one or two trials before we run him," said Ong.
"We will probably look for a nice set-weights race for his comeback race, definitely not a handicap race as he is highly rated now. Alwin has flipped through the programme and has not found anything suitable yet.
"But the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge is his main goal and we are going for all three legs. That is why we did not nominate him for the SIA Cup as he can still go for next year's."
The Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge kicks off with the Group 2 Stewards' Cup over 1,400m on May 31, moving on to the Group 1 Patron's Bowl over 1,600m on June 21 before culminating with the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby over 2,000m on July 12.