Racing

Kinabalu Warrior guns down Special Ops

Kok's 4YO gets up in last few strides to beat the $11 favourite by a short head

Kinabalu Warrior was made favourite twice from five starts but could finish only seventh on both occasions, including his last start.

It proved that the Australian-bred gelding has some potential. Otherwise, punters would not have jumped on the bandwagon.

His best effort two starts earlier was a 11/4-length third to Hard Too Think over 1,400m on a yielding track on Sept 5.

In his sixth Restricted Maiden start on Saturday, the David Kok-trained four-year-old still had his supporters. He went off as the $32 second favourite.

On paper, he only had to get past the $11 favourite Special Ops, who was runner-up in his last two starts and went into the 1,400m event with an impressive trial victory.

For a moment, it looked like Special Ops was headed for an easy win under a vigorous ride from champion jockey Vlad Duric.

But, as luck would have it, Kinabalu Warrior charged home on the outside with jockey A'Isisuhairi "Harry" Kasim atop to deny him victory by a mere short head.

Kok said he had always detected a certain potential in the new horse raced by the Royal Sabah Turf Club.

"This horse has ability but he's not been an easy horse to ride," he said. "He got checked twice in his races, he then switched off and failed.

"But today, Harry had him clear on the outside. There was no interference and he ran on very well.

"I wasn't sure if he won on the line, but I was very happy when the photo went my way.

"I would have preferred a mile race for him, but there aren't many such races for four-year-olds.

"The Royal Sabah Turf Club had a horse with me some time back and it's good to train another winner for them."

Although by the little-known US-based sire Warrior's Reward, Kok was attracted to the horse and bought it for the winning connections at a private sale in Australia.

"I saw him and liked how strong he looked, and his gallop was quite nice, too," he said.

Settled in midfield by first-time partner A'Isisuhairi, Kinabalu Warrior plotted the outermost path from the 500m mark to swing for home the widest.

Special Ops, who jumped from the second-widest barrier, looked headed for his first win when he broke clear at the 300m mark.

But Kinabalu Warrior came chipping away at the deficit on the outside to pip the leader by a short head.

Race-leader Alexander Horatio (Matthew Kellady) finished third, three lengths behind. He put up a good struggle but faded inside the last furlong.

The winning time was 1min 23.15sec on the long course.

A'Isisuhairi went on to ride a double in almost carbon-copy style, aboard the Donna Logan-trained $28 chance Iron Fist, two races later in the Class 5 Division 2 race over 1,800m.

Noh, Ewe, Duric and Azhar suspended

JOCKEY NOH SENARI

Sentence: Three Singapore race days, from Nov 8 to Nov 28.

Offence: Unable to claim to his minimum riding weight on the following horses on Saturday: Yes One Ball in Race 1, Rumble in Race 2, Jupiter Dragon in Race 6 and Luck Of Master in Race 11.

JOCKEY MARK EWE

Sentence: One Singapore race day, which covers this Saturday's meeting.

Offence: Careless riding on Kiwi Kid in Race 5; permitted his mount to shift inwards approaching the 800m mark, when insufficiently clear of Super Posh, who checked.

JOCKEY VLAD DURIC

Sentence: One Singapore race day, which covers this Saturday's meeting.

Offence: Careless riding on I Am Sacred in Race 5; directed his mount outwards passing the 300m mark, when insufficiently clear of Wealth Elite, who was crowded and carried outwards onto Planter. Planter was severely hampered and carried outwards onto Super Posh, who was hampered and carried wider.

JOCKEY AZHAR ISMAIL

Sentence: One Singapore race day, which covers this Saturday's meeting.

Offence: Careless riding on Super Dynasty in Race 9; permitted his mount to shift outwards approaching the winning post, when insufficiently clear of Karisto, who checked.

HORSE RACING