Memorable Stunning Cat
Trainer Baertschiger lives up to promise of letting owner's daughter lead in winner on maiden turf club visit
Astute trainer Shane Baertschiger made a promise and he delivered.
The lanky Australian, affectionately known as Stretch at Kranji, had promised his long-time owner Desmond Ong a winner the day his daughter Robyn attended the races for the first time.
The lawyer's daughter turned 18 - the minimum age to gain entry to the Singapore Racecourse - on Feb 5 and the much-awaited first trip to the racecourse came on Sunday.
Among Baertschiger's runners was debut winner Stunning Cat, part-owned by Ong, and Baertschiger knew it was time to deliver the promise he made.
Both he and his deputy, Scott Bailey, gave Ong the assurance his horse had trained on and stood a good chance in the $60,000 Class 4 Premier race over 1,200m on the Polytrack.
As luck would have it, Stunning Cat indeed gave Robyn the chance to lead in a winner alongside her father at her baptism of fire at Kranji for the perfect birthday present, albeit belated.
Well rated in front by jockey John Powell, who could not make the 54.5kg on the former Brisbane galloper at the debut run and was replaced by Barend Vorster, the promising three-year-old kept lifting his game the more Powell asked him.
He actually looked like he was getting the staggers upon straightening, which he was probably entitled to, given that he was caught four deep for around 200m after jumping from his awkward alley.
But Powell decided to push forward in order not to get caught on a limb.
The favourite Magic Wand was looming as the most likely gatecrasher when he came off his box-seat to pop the question under Nooresh Juglall's riding.
But Stunning Cat found a second wind to rally home with two lengths to spare.
Knight Wager, ridden by Michael Rodd, ran on nicely for third, half-a-length away.
The winning time was 1min 12.62sec.
"It's my daughter's first day at the races and she got to lead in a winner. It's fantastic," said Ong. "Thanks to Shane, Scott, and JP. They told me they would get me a winner for my daughter and they've delivered."
Baertschiger said he would have to monitor the way Stunning Cat comes through at his next endeavours before charting a more ambitious path for the son of Smart Missile.
"I threw him off at the deep end at his first run as he was still a maiden," said the Australian handler.
"This morning, I told Des he looked better in the coat, his dapples have come out and the field was not overly strong. He really fought on strongly today.
"I thought the favourite would get him, but he dug in. At his first start, he got lost, but he was a lot better today.
"I'll see how he pulls up and progresses. We may then look at the 3YO series for him."
The Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge kicks off with the Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint over 1,200m on March 30.