Monday, 13 February 2012
: The newly-forged Hideyuki Takaoka-Alan Munro association continued on their successful run by adding a mini-feature victory to their record when they combined to take out the $150,000 Woodlands Classic Stakes with Mitre Peak on Sunday.
| Mitre Peak|
Photo by Singapore Turf Club
Munro struck up a good rapport with Takaoka at his last stint last year when three of his nine wins were supplied by the Japanese trainer. When he returned to Kranji after riding for three months in Japan, the British jockey got his new Singapore one-year contract off to the best possible start with a double for Takaoka at his first weekend – Better Life
and Caribbean Moon
On the strength of his narrow defeat to Tenzing
in the Group 3 Fortune Bowl (2000m) on January 24, Takaoka's Mitre Peak
($24) was given a bright chance to keep the new team on the upswing – and that is exactly how it panned out following a copybook ride by the English Derby-winning jockey.
Settling the Japanese-bred stayer by Manhattan Café
in the box-seat behind race-leader South Easter (Greg Cheyne) who had Gingerbread Man
(Opie Bosson) camped on his girth in second, Munro bided his time until the point of turn when he decided to issue his challenge.
Tested over the trip for the first time, Gingerbread Man had gone for broke shortly after straightening and was attacking the line very strongly, but Mitre Peak started to hit top gear at the 200m before chipping away at the lead to eventually burst through and score by a neck from a gallant Gingerbread Man. Power Blitz
, (Barend Vorster) who was always in the hunt from the 300m point onwards, plugged away nicely for third only to miss second place by a short head. The winning time was 2min 5.49secs.
Takaoka said the winner, who was once battling to get the better of Class 5 gallopers, was a late
bloomer who has hit his straps only late last year.
“It's only when he started to win over a mile in Class 4 company that he showed he had finally showed
his true ability,” said Takaoka.
“He kept improving from that time and was getting stronger and stronger. On his last run, I gave him a
good chance today and he was well ridden by Alan.
“I will now be looking at the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m). And also that race in November.”
The Japanese handler was of course referring to the Singapore Gold Cup (2200m), a race he has won
three times with a horse raced in the same blue and white colours (those of Big Valley Stable) as
Mitre's Peak – El Dorado
The time-honoured handicap race is a long way off and Munro, for one, was happy to just savour
Sunday's success, his first mini-feature win in Singapore.
“Things have gone very well since I came back. Four winners already and a first feature win under the
belt,” said the 45-year-old jockey.
“It wasn't my intention to get into a handy spot, but the horse himself jumped into that spot.
“He however was a bit on it and for a horse his age, he was not racing professionally at all.
“I was a bit worried I was riding him upside down, but in hindsight, he probably benefitted from racing not too far.
“Gingerbread Man is a better horse than mine but he was outstayed in the end. I'm very happy with the
result and Takaoka is also a great man to work for.”
After Gingerbread Man's solid effort, a decision on whether he heads to Dubai will be made after the
entire recovers from the run.
four-year-old has been spoken of as a possible contender for the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free over 1800m on World Cup night – March 31 and trainer Bruce Marsh has indicated he would like to give him a run in Dubai before that meeting.
“We'll see how he comes through this before any decision is made about whether we go to Dubai or
not,” said Marsh.
“He has run a great race. It's just a bit unfortunate that we weren't able to get any cover during the run.
The pace just wasn't fast enough where he would have been able to slot in onto the fence.
“Maybe if the leader had held on a bit further into the straight, then it might have been a different story.
“It was only in the last three strides that the winner got him.”