Racing

Zygarde comes right

KS Tan-trained NZ-bred shows maturity to score at sixth start

Zygarde, named after a Pokemon dragon, has finally come right - with maturity.

The Titanium Racing Stable-owned four-year-old New Zealand-bred showed promise with a debut third a year ago. But he went off tangent in his next four starts, all this season.

This made trainer Tan Kah Soon scratch his head over what went wrong.

But, showing maturity with with Marc Lerner aboard on Saturday, Zygarde was a maiden no more.

He came from behind midfield to take the $20,000 Maiden event over the Polytrack 1,200m by half a length from the Louis-Philippe Beuzelin-ridden Fort Mustang.Backed to fourth fancy, he paid $32 for a win.

"This horse was very immature. At his first start, after the break, he just lost the plot in the parade ring," said Ipoh-born Tan, the son of former trainer Dr Tan Swee Hock.

"He can be difficult in the mornings, but he can be chilled when he's just out there having a pick of grass. In that brain of his, he's still a kid.

"He then came back on turf and was stepped up to the mile. But he raced too keen for Zyrul (Nor Azman). I still think he can stay the mile.

"Marc has been riding him in trackwork and rode him once. He knows him well.

"I think it's been all about a good dose of patience and finding the right race for him."

Positioned worse than midfield throughout, Zygarde laid low until he started to pick his way through the pack, before lengthening up like a good thing inside the last 200m.

Beuzelin seemed keen on a late French showdown between jockeys, when he launched Fort Mustang with a strong bid on the outside.

But it was Lerner who greeted greet the judge bonjour first.

The $11 favourite Just Stars, ridden by champion jockey Vlad Duric, did give his backers plenty to cheer when he looped around the field to hit the front upon straightening.

But he failed to stave off Zygarde and Fort Mustang, ending up third, 11/4 lengths away.

The winning time was 1min 12.46sec.

After a few leg-ups on Zygarde, Lerner has slowly but surely found the right buttons to push.

"He's a funny horse, he can switch off and get off the bit," he said. "That's why I was not too worried he was a bit far back, as sooner or later, he would switch back on.

"I know he had ability from his first run with Daniel Moor when he ran third in a Restricted Maiden race (Dec 8 last year).

"He was in a rather moderate field and he was probably the best horse. I know him better now, after having also ridden him in a barrier trial."

HORSE RACING