Racing

Marine Treasure roars into Merlion Trophy

Baertschiger's honest sprinter scores gutsy win in $100,000 Class 1 race

The $400,000 Merlion Trophy beckons, after the honest sprinter Marine Treasure scored a gutsy victory in the $100,000 Class 1 race over 1,100m on Polytrack at Kranji on Sunday.

The Merlion Trophy, a domestic Group 2 feature, will be run over the Poly 1,200m on Aug 25.

A feature-race participant during the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge in 2016, when he was then prepared by Steven Burridge, Marine Treasure has not been tested at the elite level since.

While Marine Treasure wouldn't be described as something out of the box, the son of Manhattan Rain has still proven to be a consistent performer for trainer Shane Baertschiger in sprint events on both turf and Polytrack. He scored up to Class 2 level at his last win in a 1,200m turf race on Aug 12 last year.

He has, therefore, not saluted for nearly a year, but the timing of his latest success could not have been better. The door to Group glory was flung wide open, courtesy of a peach ride from jockey A'Isisuhairi "Harry" Kasim.

One of the quickest away, Marine Treasure proceeded to lob along in the small field of six, but apprentice jockey Simon WH Kok had other ideas on Pennywise as they came off a wide berth to dictate terms.

A'Isisuhairi had to quickly think on his feet. He went for the right option when he came off the rails to park the $48 chance on Pennywise's haunches halfway through the race.

Homeward-bound as the bunched-up field flattened to the line with all six in with a winnable chance at the thicker end of the prize money, it was the first two protagonists who were still holding sway.

A bit of a bumping duel ensued between the fighting duo, but ridden with great conviction by A'Isisuhairi, Marine Treasure steadily gained the ascendancy on Pennywise on his way towards a well-deserved sixth victory by one length.

The Alwin Tan-trained Revolution (CC Wong), another Merlion Trophy hopeful who needed a forward performance to warrant a crack at the Polytrack sprint feature, pipped Pennywise by a nose for second.

The favourite Sacred Rebel (Benny Woodworth), who was backing up after his win the previous week, did not flatter this time. He beat only Constant Justice (Patrick Moloney) home.

The winning time was 1min 04.81sec for the Poly 1,100m.

Baertschiger was full of praise for the Arc Marine & Premier Racing Stable-owned Marine Treasure, who has now racked up more than $390,000 with that latest triumph.

"He's been running well. He's a very honest horse," said the Australian handler, who already has Preditor pencilled in for the Merlion Trophy.

"He lost a lot of weight and that's why I backed him off for two weeks. He has stomach ulcers, I put him on a different ulcer guard and it's worked - he was up 16kg today.

"His trial and work have been sensational. I was confident when Harry popped him off the fence to go after the leader while the favourite was pushed out three deep."

A'Isisuhairi, who has become the go-to jockey whenever Baertschiger saddles a runner at the southern end of the handicap, was pleased with the arrangement and his fifth winner for the trainer.

"Today, I wanted to lead and ride the horse positive, but Simon Kok came across. I was actually worried when two runners came on the outside to put some pressure," said the two-time Singapore top apprentice.

"I then came off Simon Kok's heels and things worked out perfectly in the end. This horse likes to have things his way, he really gave what he's got today.

"I was really pleased with the way he finished off. Once he changed to the right leg, he produced a nice turn of foot, changed through his gears and hit top gear for a strong finish."

HORSE RACING