Ninesixthreethree strikes first prize
Trainer Desmond Koh's $243 outsider is named after the combination of his favourite number and that of his co-owners
Fancy the name Ninesixthreethree for a horse?
How did the owners come up with a moniker like that? We know of owners naming their horses after things they like or whatever favourites they have.
For example, multiple-champion owner Jerry Sung of Auric Stable used to name his horses after comic heroes - like Ultraman, Batman and Starman, who all turned out to be champions.
Another champion, Oscar Racing's CK Phua, obviously a movie buff, names his horses after academy award winners.
Among them were Mr Clint (Eastwood), who won the Singapore Gold Cup, and (Richard) Dreyfuss, who won the Emirates Singapore Derby. Phua's other Derby winner, Clint, is also named after the famous actor and director.
Overseas, one of the most famous equine monikers is Makybe Diva, the only horse to win three Melbourne Cups - in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Why Makybe Diva?
You will be surprised to know that the champion mare's owner, South Australian tuna fisherman Tony Santic, named her from the first two letters of his five employees' names - Maureen, Kylie, Belinda, Diane and Vanessa.
It is one of those fascinating tales of the turf.
But Ninesixthreethree? It certainly drew a lot of curiosity.
Even the Singapore Turf Club's English and Australian presenters were puzzled whenever the Desmond Koh-trained Ninesixthreethree took part in the trials and races.
Well, the cat is out of the bag.
Koh solved the puzzle on Saturday, after his four-year-old New Zealand-bred scored second-up when taking the $20,000 Open Maiden race over the Polytrack 1,100m.
Ridden by Kranji Mile-winning jockey A'Isisuhairi "Harry" Kasim, Ninesixthreethree overcame the widest barrier to storm home by 21/2 lengths in 1min 05.25sec.
Unfancied, he paid $243 for a win - the biggest payout of the 12 races on the card.
Koh revealed after the victory that the horse's name is derived from the combination of his lucky number and that of his good friends, Bernard and Catherine Tan, who co-own the horse.
"There are a couple of lucky numbers there. Bernard and Catherine's lucky number is 96 and that's the name of their stable anyway, and mine is 33. I never miss it in roulette," said the Singaporean trainer.
Well, one wonders if 9633 will be a sold-out number in this week's 4D draws.
Back to the race, the Michael Clements-trained newcomer and $7 favourite Mellad kicked up to lead from the "off". Lim's Denali, the $23 second favourite, and $152 outsider Bizar Wins hunted him.
Eight Ball, the $31 chance, was slightly further back than midfield, followed by Ninesixthreethree,who was wide.
Lim's Denali and Bizar Wins challenged the leader shortly after straightening. Eight Ball improved but still had lengths to make up.
A'Isisuhairi angled Ninesixthreethree to the outside for an unimpeded run and his mount lengthened strides.
As the front trio were fighting it out in the final stages, Eight Ball charged past them. But he was in turn collared by the quicker Ninesixthreethree.
The win was a big contrast to his debut over 1,200m on turf on May 29, when he beat only two home in the field of 12 in a similar Open Maiden event.
When questioned by the stewards regarding the apparent improved performance of his charge, Koh stated that he believed that the gelding had benefited from his recent racing experience.
He added that, in his opinion, the horse would be better suited for a longer distance. His explanation was noted.
In his post-race comment, Koh said: "He didn't show much at his first run. But, after Harry Kasim rode him in trackwork, he told me he has improved a lot.
"We just had to place him in the right race, and we found this Open Maiden race. I expected an improved run, maybe not the win, but we're all happy he won."