Hello And Goodbye, Supernova Bruce
Likeable Kiwi gets fitting farewell present from his favourite horse, 11-year-old Supernova, on his last day as a Kranji-based trainer
The scene was very emotional indeed at the winner's enclosure of the Singapore Racecourse at Kranji after Race 5 yesterday.
The handshakes, the pats on the back and the high fives came thick and fast from the Kranji racing fraternity for New Zealand trainer Bruce Marsh, who ended his 14-year Singapore training stint with a fitting farewell present from none other than his favourite horse - 11-year-old Supernova.
It was the affable veteran trainer's 417th Kranji winner, since his sensational first with Hello And Goodbye in the $800,000 Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby in July 2005.
Marsh and his wife Kay must have had their heart in their mouth when Supernova struggled to get past the stubborn Jason Lim-trained Green Star in yesterday's Class 4 race over the Polytrack 1,600m.
But Marsh's apprentice jockey, N Zyrul, rode like a man possessed to squeeze every ounce of energy from Supernova to pinch a short head victory from the leader on the line.
While most, including racecaller Luke Marlow, were unsure if Supernova had got the verdict in the bobbing of heads, a jubilant Zyrul was seen punching his fist in delight at the post.
He was spot-on. He was credited with scripting one of the stories of 2019. The emotional occasion caused some red eyes.
"Could have got a better horse but it was so exciting. It was a lovely ride by Zyrul - a perfect ride, a 10-out-of-10. I've never seen him so strong at the finish. Over the moon," said an excited but teary-eyed Marsh.
He added of his 12-time winner from 84 starts: "He has got a great heart, clean legs -everything really good with him. But he's a real Class 4 horse.
"It couldn't have finished better, because you know, for such an old horse - too old to be in this basically - it's amazing.
"And, you know, I just have to mention thanks to all the supporting owners I've had over the years and a marvellous staff, without whom this wouldn't be happening."
Zyrul was certainly pleased to have repaid the man who has been so supportive of his career.
"That's the least I could do for him. He has always been supporting me so much. He even sent me to New Zealand. I am so happy that I won on his old horse - and his favourite one - on his last day. I am so honoured to ride that horse for him," he said.
When told that Marsh said he had never seen him riding that strong, Zyrul laughed and said: "No, not just me. Even the horse was giving his best.
"Like even in the last 50m, I was still like 'can we get there?' But he just kept on giving and we got there in the end, and I was very happy."
At a farewell gathering after the day's races, Marsh was presented a bottle of champagne by trainer Tan Kah Soon.
"It's been a marvellous trip. We'll be back from time to time," said the smiling Kiwi, with his wife by his side.
The Marshes will be flying back tomorrow night to New Zealand, where retirement time will mostly be taken up by his hobby - fishing.
In an interview last week, Marsh said he had actually overstayed his tenure in Singapore.
Here in 2005, after being coaxed by good friend and multiple Singapore champion trainer Laurie Laxon, his plan was to train for five years. His son Stephen would then take over the stables.
But his son was doing very in his own right and decided not to relocate to Singapore.
"Laurie basically just told me there were boxes waiting for me, just get up here. I visited the place and the next thing I know Kay and myself moved here," said Marsh.
"Originally, it was meant to be a five-year plan, where Stephen would first take over my New Zealand stables of 40 horses. I sold my Woodville stables and they moved to Stephen's new stables in Cambridge.
"The plan was to see how it goes in Singapore and Stephen would follow later. But then, he started pre-training for clients to send horses to Hong Kong, started training for a big owner, another year went by, he kept postponing it until his stable has grown so big with 130 horses.
"Around five years ago, I knew he was not coming. He's only 38 today and is going very well, it would've been silly of him to leave all that behind and come here."
This time, Marsh knows he is leaving in good hands. He has faith in his deputy of nearly four years, Singaporean Jason Ong, who has obtained his licence.
"It's been a marvellous ride. I came to Singapore - thanks to Laurie - and I certainly did not regret the move," said Marsh, whose other achievements were with Gingerbread Man, who made a clean sweep of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge in 2011 and with Race Ahead winning him his second Derby and the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in 2010.