Give it up for a Mr Malek encore
Burridge-trained Stewards' Cup winner is in sizzling form, extra 200m Derby distance not a problem
It may be his first trip over 1,800m, but last-start Group 2 Stewards' Cup winner Mr Malek looks poised to collect the Group 1 Singapore Derby as well at Kranji on Sunday.
His winning jockey, A'Isisuhairi Kasim, had said that the Steven Burridge-trained would have no problem handling the extra 200m in the $400,000 feature for four-year-olds.
"I spoke to Steven and I told him 1,800m will be no issue. He is so relaxed and he did it so easy over 1,600m," the Kelantan-born rider told me after capturing the Stewards' Cup on July 3.
Mr Malek has had 13 starts for eight wins from 1,200m to 1,600m. He was second once and third thrice from 1,100m to 1,400m.
But the way he cruised to victory in the Stewards' Cup clearly suggests he can handle the 1,800m distance with ease.
What's more, the Oscar Racing Stable-owned New Zealand-bred has thrived even further for his Derby assignment.
Last week, his trial was fantastic. He was merely toying with his rivals, granted they were way below his level.
Last early, A'Isisuhairi made a forward move from the bend and took his mount home wide out. Without him having to flex a muscle, his mount just cantered past the hard-ridden Class 4 galloper Charger.
He went on to win by a neat length in 60.66sec for 1,000m on the Polytrack.
Burridge was naturally pleased with Mr Malek's trial performance.
"He wasn't out there to run time. They ran along in front and he got around them and finished off nicely," he said.
"It was a nice strong gallop. He trialled before the Stewards' Cup and we did the same thing for the Derby."
For the record, Mr Malek also won his trial impressively prior to his Stewards' Cup outing on July 3.
Burridge put the finishing touches to his charge on Wednesday morning, when Mr Malek again caught the eye for those at trackwork.
He gave his Class 5 stablemate Tiger Leap, who is running in Sunday's opening race, a few lengths' headstart, but he already caught up after a few hundred metres.
He clocked 39.7sec for the 600m hit-out on the right-handed Track 6 without spending a penny.
It's all systems go now. Looking at the small field, reigning Singapore Gold Cup winner Big Hearted seems to be his only threat of Mr Malek's eight rivals.
The Michael Clements-trained seven-time winner from 16 starts came from behind to finish second to Mr Malek in the Stewards' Cup.
He was beaten by 11/4 lengths and the extra 200m will suit him better. Stamina is his strength, having won over the Derby trip and over 2,000m in the Gold Cup. He, too, is in peak form.
If he greets the judge, he will give Clements his second successive Derby. The Zimbabwe-born Singaporean won with Top Knight last year for the same connections, Falcon Racing No. 7 Stable.