Infantry leads Alwin Tan's three-pronged attack
Trainer hopes for first Emirates Singapore Derby after losing by a mere neck with War Affair in 2015
Two years ago, he went agonisingly close in the Emirates Singapore Derby with his former champion War Affair, who is now under the charge of trainer Bruce Marsh.
War Affair had won the first two legs of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge - the Group 2 Stewards' Cup (1,400m) and Group 1 Patron's Bowl (1,600m) - but lost to Quechua by a mere neck in the 2,000m Derby, which was the final leg.
Tomorrow, trainer Alwin Tan will be hoping to saddle his first Derby but admits that none of his three runners are "in the same class as War Affair".
"War Affair is the best horse I've ever trained. I still treasure the time he was under my care," said Tan, who went on to win the Singapore trainer's premiership last year.
"Losing the Derby was hard to take. Quechua beat him by a neck and I remember that moment like it was yesterday.
"But it's the past now, and this Sunday, I get another chance of winning my first Derby. None of the three horses - INFANTRY, NOVA STRIKE and ABSOLUTE MIRACLE - are in the same class as War Affair, but they are not bad horses at all, especially Infantry."
ACCORDING TO PLAN
Tan said his trio have all come through their preparations more or less according to plan, and all that's left to do now is to see whether the individual programme he has mapped out for them will pay off tomorrow.
All three will be at their first test over the 2,000m trip of the $1.15 million Group 1 race.
"They have all worked pretty well. The only concern is the distance, it's their first time over 2,000m, it's a very new challenge to them," said Tan.
"I'm more confident with Infantry as he's the top-rated horse in my stable and I always thought he would be more suited by longer staying races. His good barrier (six) is also a plus.
"I've been training him for more endurance and, of the three, he's the one who is more used to this new type of training. He can be subject to heat strokes, though, so we have to be mindful of that.
"For two weeks, I just did endurance work with him, no fast gallops, and just maintain his condition. I will have to discuss with his jockey, Manoel Nunes, on the best way to ride him.
"Absolute Miracle did well in the Patron's Bowl (fifth to Alibi) and I was very pleasantly surprised with that run. It's the first time he will run in such a big group of horses, so we'll have to see how he handles that.
"I think he wants more ground, too, and the 2,000m should be much better for him. He's drawn wide (13), though, and his jockey, Alan Munro, will probably have to find a spot without cover a little further back than usual.
"As for Nova Strike, he always tries hard, but he's a small horse and the weights are not to his advantage. He's also drawn wide (12), and I'll have to work out a strategy with his jockey Derreck David."