War Affair set for comeback

The champ is back from New Zealand after more than a year

Crank up the volume and get ready to cheer.

War Affair's back home and on the warpath again.

Now an eight-year-old, War Affair has been in New Zealand for more than a year where he was rested and raced.

The former champion galloper, he is probably the only horse who could be mentioned in the same breath as the great Rocket Man, War Affair is now being groomed for his local comeback.

So, you ask. What about his respiratory problems? After all, wasn't that part of the reason why he left for New Zealand?

Didn't his connections hope the fresh air in the countryside would ease his discomfort? And that the change of scenery would bring back his zest for racing?

Yes, yes and yes. Well, it seems it's mission accomplished.

"He came back to Singapore around three weeks ago and it's been a week or so since he's started working. So far, it's been just trotting around the holding area, and he is obviously pretty fresh," said Jason Ong, who happens to be the owner's son and Bruce Marsh's assistant trainer.

He added: "He had two good runs in New Zealand. We wanted to be sure he would measure up before we brought him back."

Well those races didn't have any fairytale endings but none of the sort was expected as both the races were at Group level.

"It was always the intention to bring him back to Singapore, but we thought he should race there or he would be too rusty doing nothing for such a long time," said Ong.

"Stephen (Marsh's son) did a good job to get him back in great order. He is breathing a lot better, hopefully he stays sound. To me, he is better than he was at his last prep."

Marsh and the owners have not yet set a time-frame for the comeback but they're looking at a Kranji Stakes A race and, later perhaps, some events at set weights.

The 2014 Singapore Horse of the Year and multiple Group One winner last raced in Singapore on Sept 10, 2017, finishing a lacklustre sixth to Countofmontecristo in the Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy over 1,400m.

It was then that they decided on his New Zealand adventure.

But win, draw or lose, New Zealand was never meant to be a one-way ticket. The Ong's always wanted the 16-time winner and earner of more than $3 million to have one last roll of the dice at Kranji - provided he stayed fit and healthy.

War Affair has been under the care of Marsh since 2016.

He was previously trained by Mark Walker (mostly as a two-year-old) and Alwin Tan under whom he swept the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge in 2014, including the Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1,600m) as well as four other Group 1s - the Panasonic Kranji Mile (1,600m), Raffles Cup (1,800m) the same year and the Lion City Cup (1,200m) and Patron's Bowl (1,600m) in 2015.