Boss gets it right first-up on Blue Swede
Trainer Baertschiger accedes to jockey's request to test his Singapore Gold Cup hopeful and it pays off
It would seem trainer Shane Baertschiger got more than he bargained for after he told Glen Boss to get a few practice spins on BLUE SWEDE before he gets the ride in the Singapore Gold Cup in November.
A couple of weeks ago, Boss approached the Australian handler about the ride on the O'Reilly six-year-old in the Group 1 race over 2,200m on Nov 12.
The answer was yes as long as he gets to learn about the notoriously quirky gelding.
The best way to go about that is a couple of race rides, and the Australian Hall of Fame jockey duly got his first seat in Sunday's $125,000 Hello Zagreb Stakes, a Kranji Stakes A race over 1,600m.
And what a masterful ride it turned out to be at their very first combination.
Taking a midfield spot in a fairly bunched-up group, Blue Swede was in a striking position as White Hunter (Alan Munro) swung into the home straight as the horse to run down.
The target bunny soon changed when favourite War Affair (Danny Beasley) hit the front after coursing out three to four wide from the 800m mark.
For a second, it looked like the 2015 Singapore Horse of the Year had the race all stitched up, but again, as he has done in recent times, he hit a brickwall.
That impression was further enhanced as White Hunter, a noted one-pacer, reeled War Affair back in, but he was soon engulfed by the fast-finishing swoopers.
Best Tothelign (John Powell, $89) arrived on the scene, but it was the pink jersey of his better-fancied stablemate Blue Swede ($20) who produced the better finish as he poked his head in.
The win was in the bag until Perfect P (apprentice CC Wong) flew home on the outside, but the winning post saved Blue Swede by a nose.
Best Tothelign had to settle for third place, half-a-length away.
The winning time was 1min 35.41sec for the 1,600m on the Short Course B.
"Bossy said he wanted to ride Blue Swede in the Gold Cup. I told him no problem, but he had to get a couple of practice runs first," said Baertschiger.
"He rode him a treat. I thought he got there with the naked eye.
"He didn't start too badly today, and the muddling pace saw him ridden a bit closer this time.
"The way the track has been playing today, nothing was coming from behind, and I was happy to see him closer.
"The Gold Cup is his goal and I will have to plan his programme properly now."
Boss jumped off with a big smile, knowing he has certainly ticked the first box towards keeping the seat come November.
"He jumped really well today even though he can be a bit sticky at the barriers," said Boss.
"I wanted to ride him out of his comfort zone today, just to keep War Affair out. I dug in just to hold a spot and it's worked out good."
Blue Swede, who ran third in last year's Gold Cup behind Bahana with Matthew Kellady astride, has now recorded eight wins and six placings from 30 starts for stakes of over the $600,000 mark for his owner-trainer Baertschiger.