Walker’s Genius gets stable flying again

After a subdued start to the season, Singapore champion trainer Mark Walker looks to have finally hit top gear as he extended his recently newfound lead with an early race-to-race double in the first two races on Sunday.

Favourite Damon (Manoel Nunes) duly obliged in the opener, the $38,000 Kranji Stakes D Division 1 race over 1600m, though he had to dig deep to defeat Perfect Challenger (Mohd Firdaus) by a head before recent stable transfer Star Genius (Ng Choon Kiat) blew away her rivals at her first start for Walker in the $65,000 Initiation race over 1000m.

Not one of the best out of the gates this year, Walker has, however, been slowly making his way from midtable to the top tier in the last month before finally springing to the top of the heap for the first time last Sunday. The Kiwi mentor said there was no secret to the rally – just getting horses in the right races.

“The horses have been getting back to the right grade. Look at Clermont Club last Sunday, he’s been waiting to drop back in Class 5 and he won easily,” he said.

“It’s good to be back on top but the season is still long. The horses are running well and we also have been getting new horses and new owners like this one (Star Genius).

“The owners (Genius Stable) rang me out of the blue, and said they were keen to join my team. This is the third win I’ve had with them (after We Are Genius and Breaking Vaults).

“This mare came to me in perfect condition and I’ve done nothing different with her, just like the other two winners from that owner.

“She was ready to win and she won well, though I must say she had no weight on her back. She will keep improving from that as she’s still young.”

Well ridden by Ng, Star Genius, a three-year-old filly by Starcraft, raced midfield with cover though she was inclined to overrace a touch – a trait she had at her previous runs, especially when they slow up the pace upfront. Favourite Satellite Man (Nunes) was the first to corner for home but was already a spent force after proving a handful around bends with Llyna (Saifudin Ismail) the first to pounce on him.

But Ng had in the meantime peeled Star Genius ($18) to the outside and it soon became crystal clear who would be enjoying the thicker end of the prizemoney as the chestnut filly exploded away to romp in by 3 ¾ lengths from Llyna with Lim’s Charge (Danny Beasley) third another half-a-length away. The winning time was 59.97 seconds for the 1000m.

Walker also paid compliments to his apprentice Ng for the vast improvement he has shown in recent months and to his assistant-trainer Gus Clutterbuck for spending a lot of time mentoring Ng.

“Gus was a top jockey in the South (of New Zealand) and he has taken CK under his wings,” he said.

“He’s put in a lot of time and effort in the boy. He has good hands and is a hard worker, and I told him the harder your work the higher you will get.”

A win is a win, but Walker was far from 100% happy with $14 favourite Damon’s win in the first race.

“He looked a special on paper, but it didn’t look it in the end,” he said.

“He’s still work in progress. There is still a lot of improvement to come out of him.

“I think he’ll get better over more ground – 2000m would be his go.”

A four-year-old by O’Reilly, Damon was sporting blinkers for the first time, but looked to have burned his chances when he ducked in behind runners at the 300m only to shift back out to work into the clear. The Lim’s Stable galloper could not quite pull away once he hit the front, doing just enough to keep Perfect Challenger at bay.

Singapore Turf Club
Michael Lee
20/03/2016

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