Awatere's win is Walker's 400th at Kranji
2015 champion trainer attributes hard work and good owners for his milestone
Leading trainer Mark Walker saddled his 400th winner with AWATERE (R Shafiq) in the opening event to the Singapore Guineas day on Sunday.
For good measure, the 2015 Singapore champion trainer went on to saddle two more winners - UNSURPASSED (Vlad Duric) in Race 6 and SHOW FAR SHOW GOOD (Nooresh Juglall) in Race 11.
Walker, who currently tops the trainer's log on 34 winners, three clear of his successor Alwin Tan, said there was no secret to the success achieved in Singapore since relocating from New Zealand in 2010 - hard work and good owners.
"It's fantastic to reach another milestone in Singapore," said the five-time New Zealand premiership-winning trainer, whose Kranji tally hit 399 with Ancient Warrior on May 1.
"I'm just lucky to have very good owners. They're the key to my success, they are the people supporting me with good horses."
It is unlikely Walker would put Awatere in the same league as the top horses he has trained in the last seven years, such as Flying Fulton, Sebrose or My Lucky Strike, but he said the $258 smokie was not without ability.
Awatere probably slipped under the watch of most in the $38,000 Debt Collector 2016 Stakes, a Kranji Stakes D Division 1 race over 1,200m, following his recent ordinary form. But, to Walker, the two-time winner just did not have luck on his side of late.
"He had no luck at his last races. Little things just went wrong for him," he said.
"On Sunday, he got a good positive ride and, with the soft lead he had, he was able to go all the way. The return to turf probably also helped him.
"Shafiq is riding with greater confidence these days. He's a very underrated rider but he works hard and is very talented."
The former two-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey was aboard the Charge Forward three-year-old's last win in a Novice race over 1,200m on turf, but they then came from behind to score going away.
This time round, Shafiq took the bull by the horns from the start in spite of the awkward gate in 10, bouncing the Forsyth Racing-owned gelding straight to the lead before dropping anchor after 200m or so.
The $24 second favourite Lim's Shot (Danny Beasley) did come upsides upon straightening, but Awatere conjured up a second wind to go and score from Lim's Shot, with El Camino (Vlad Duric) third.
"The boss looked at the handicap and decided to change his plans. There was no real frontrunner in the race, and even though we drew wide, we decided to go forward," said Shafiq.
"We went in front and I was able to dictate the pace. From that point, he was always going to be hard to catch."
With that third victory, Awatere has already amassed a handy bundle close to the $120,000 mark for his connections.