Ateej makes it 4 from 4 in KL
Former Kranji galloper defies promotion to Class 3 to score convincing win with Oscar Chavez astride
A change of environment has transformed former Kranji galloper Ateej out of sight.
The four-year-old Argentinian-bred remained unbeaten in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, making it four from four on the Sungei Besi racecource in Race 7, a Class 3 race over 1,400m.
It was Ateej's first attempt over the trip and the way he accelerated and cruised to a 13/4-length victory over another former Kranji galloper Lim's Casino suggested that a mile should not pose any problem for him.
Ateej, the first choice of The New Paper, jumped as the favourite and paid $12 on the Singapore tote.
The Al-Arabiya Stable-owned handsome brown gelding showed promise when trained by Ricardo Le Grange at Kranji but just lacked the luck.
He finished second in both his Restricted Maiden starts - to Ebraz in his debut on Sept 17 last year and to Easy Does It on Oct 15, both times over 1,200m.
Ateej then relocated to Kuala Lumpur to be trained by jockey-turned-trainer SB Tan, who enjoyed a great run with the horse. After a good break, Ateej resumed racing on July 8 this year and scored in an Open Maiden race over 1,300m.
Reclassified in Class 4, he triumphed again over 1,200m on Aug 5 and completed a Class 4 double on Nov 25 over the same trip. Going from strength to strength, the rise to Class 3 proved no hurdle for the horse yesterday. He won without raising a sweat and Oscar Chavez, his rider in all his six starts, deserved all the credit for his cool and confident ride.
Although he started midfield, the Panamanian-born rider stayed cool as a cucumber. Lim's Casino set a brisk pace and was still well clear with 300m left to run. Chavez then brought Ateej home with a great run. Although his mount drifted in, the momentum was there. Ateej swept past Lim's Casino easily 150m out to win in a good time of 1min 22.1sec.
Chavez completed a running double by taking Race 8 on another former Kranji-based horse, Confound.
Unplaced in seven starts under Daniel Meagher, Confound notched his second double from 14 starts in the Malaysian capital for trainer Richard Lines. In seven starts between his two doubles, the Confidence Stable-owned five-year-old New Zealand-bred's best effort was a second placing.