Racing

Walker's new strategy pays off

Switch in bloodstock markets sees Singapore champion trainer achieve a double with Inherit and Altair

A switch in bloodstock markets towards former expensive yearlings, who did not quite deliver at Randwick or Rosehill in Australia, brought the results for champion trainer Mark Walker not once but twice at Kranji on Sunday.

By coincidence, both Inherit and Altair were prepared by Sydney premier trainer Chris Waller before being acquired by Walker for his connections.

Kranji certainly proved to be a much more conducive backyard for the two former Waller-trained gallopers.

Inherit, an A$180,000 (S$170,000) purchase as a yearling, made only about a fifth of that price tag in eight starts, with his only win recorded on a debut in a 1,200m race at Newscastle in July last year.

Walker didn't expect a winning debut from Inherit in Sunday's $50,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over the Polytrack 1,200m.

He thought the trip would be on the sharp side, but Inherit came off a soft run behind the leaders to round up his nine rivals rather easily.

Ridden by Azhar Ismail, Inherit collared leader Super Win at the 200m mark before clearing away for a 11/2-length win, clearly not fully extended.

The winning time was 1min 12.15sec.

"He's a nice horse who won once over 1,200m in Australia and was placed once over 1,900m," said Walker.

"I think he's better than Class 4 and he will get much better over more distance. He probably needed every bit of the 1,200m, he was outgrounded.

"It's become very hard to buy yearlings these days, and this proves we can still buy horses at the right price while they still have some upside about them."

Five races later, Altair struck first-up in the $50,000 Class 4 race over the Poly 1,100m.

Caught three wide in no man's land after breaking from the outermost alley, the Zoustar four-year-old was never in with a chance to tuck in for some cover. But, upon straightening, there was only one horse running away from the rest - Altair.

In-form jockey Benny Woodworth gave the former Qatar Racing-owned galloper a few reminders inside the last 200m, but it was more to go through the motions. The race was already all stitched up by then.

Last-start winner Lincoln Moonlight claimed the battle for the minors, 23/4 lengths behind Altair, who clocked 1min 05.81sec.

Altair cost A$510,000 as a yearling. He had 11 starts back home for a win over 1,550m, two seconds and three thirds.

Walker said he was not too concerned when he saw Altair punching the breeze throughout the race, as it was a scenario he and Woodworth had been well-prepared for.

The New Zealander said the horse was not without qualities, but he was for that first day at the office greatly aided by a sterling ride from a man who can't do no wrong these days.

"We thought we'd end up three wide but Benny always had him in a nice rhythm," said Walker."Benny can win on a broomstick these days. He's so full of confidence, he knows his horses.

"He deserves the rewards as he is at the track every day and he works really hard."

HORSE RACING