Elite Invincible makes amends
Trainer Mark Walker's classy Irish-bred stays on-course for Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby
Trainer Mark Walker was vindicated by putting a line across Elite Invincible after his last-start run as the $15 beaten favourite when a disappointing seventh to Justice Day.
The two-time Singapore champion said the impressive debut Polytrack 1,200m winner was left with too much to do second-up on a drenched yielding track over 1,200m on turf on New Year's Day.
The affable Kiwi had openly advised naysayers to best forget Elite Invincible's run, with horses close to the fence having the advantage that day.
He gave his charge a top chance to redeem himself in Sunday's Class 3 Div 1 event over an extra 200m on turf, although the Irish-bred was handicapped as the topweight with 57kg.
He even predicted a top-three finish, otherwise he would be disappointed. That showed how confident he was.
True to his words, Elite Invincible ran a much-improved race on a better yielding track to score an emphatic victory and stay on-course in his Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge quest, in particular the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby in July.
Taking over the reins from his previous race partner, apprentice R Zawari, Singapore champion jockey Vlad Duric had a saloon passage in the running.
After tracking a handy fourth behind the leader Siamese Cat, Duric woke Elite Invincible up rounding the home turn.
Elite Invincible straightened up beautifully with a clear run and began closing in fast.
The Elite Performance Stable-owned classy bay gelding hit the front 250m out and it was all over bar the shouting.
Elite Invincible, who was the $21 second favourite, went to the post by a length from the Lee Freedman-trained $76 outsider The Capital.
Walker opined that, unlike Sunday, the wet track at Elite Invincible's previous run was the reason for the poor showing.
"I think, last start, we had something like 129mm of rain and, any other parts in the world, you wouldn't have been racing at all," he said.
"I just think he got out into that strip that was a little bit slower and he just sort of didn't really stretch out.
"But Vlad had a nice rein on him today and had him on a gun-run position.
"I was more relieved than anything to see him do that because there was a little question mark on the turf.
"But I just thought he was too good a galloper not to have improved and get back to his good form."
So the Emirates Singapore Derby now beckons?
"You'd think so, like he ran in that Dubai World Cup meeting in the UAE Derby then, so that's the reason the owners bought him trying to target the Derby," said Walker.
"So, obviously, everyone is targeting the Derby, so you've got to aim high sometimes. Let's see how far we get."
A £150,000 (S$272,000) purchase as a three-year-old, Elite Invincible raced six times in the United Kingdom and Dubai as Qatar Man.
He scored over 1,609m at Kempton Park in England and was second three times, including one in a Listed race.
In Dubai, he was deemed good enough to contest the Group 3 UAE Guineas over 1,600m at Meydan in February.
He did well to finish fourth.
On Dubai World Cup Night on March 25, he competed the US$2 million (S$2.7 million) Group 2 UAE Derby over 1,900m and finished sixth on the soft ground.
After the UAE Derby, he was acquired for Singapore racing and landed on July 29.