Tan not quite believing in Miracle Strike

Alwin Tan is hoping for a “miracle” in the $200,000 Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1600m) on Sunday.

Tan not quite believing in Miracle Strike

Alwin Tan is hoping for a “miracle” in the $200,000 Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1600m) on Sunday.

Last year’s Singapore champion trainer was obviously making a play on words given one of his two runners is Absolute Miracle. The second contender is Nova Strike (pictured above).

The two horses were once regarded as two of Tan’s leading lights from the way they spearheaded his title-winning season last year. But their tapering form this year has unfortunately mirrored Tan’s own decline in results as the reigning champion – after briefly hitting the lead earlier in the year, the former air force regular has spun out of the top three to now sit in fourth place on 43 winners, 28 winners behind runaway leader Mark Walker.

Nova Strike Horseform was Mr Consistency, notching up four wins last year, and finished in the money more often than he was out, including coming within a whisker of twice upstaging Singapore Horse of the Year Debt Collector.

But this year has seen a significant drop in performance for the Red Giant five-year-old, until a sudden spike of form at odds in the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (2000m) came about when he made solid ground to run third to stablemate Infantry.

He, however, again went backwards at his last start. Shafiq Rizuan, who rode him to his first two wins, will be back in the saddle on Sunday.

Absolute Miracle has not had as much mileage as Nova Strike (16 compared to 31 wins) but the former one-time Wyong winner (1100m) looked like a more than useful sort when he finally hit his straps after a handful of encouraging runs, scoring three times, all over 1400m.

Unlike Nova Strike, the son of Strategic Maneuver was not always around the mark, but he did produce a few stunning runs – like the one when he came from near last under former top jockey Danny Beasley to defeat a handy Kranji Stakes C field in February.

Unfortunately, it all went pear-shaped thereafter. Tan humbly put his hand up for the apparent drop in form for the gelding raced by beauty entrepreneur Mathilda Koh.

Tan was convinced the gelding would stay, but with the benefit of hindsight, it might not have been a good idea to raise the distance for him. He ran unplaced in the Singapore Derby and the Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1800m), albeit not beaten far off.

Still, Tan is not holding his breath his Committee’s Prize pair will suddenly find their mojo again, but could not fault their current form on the training tracks either, especially Absolute Miracle.

“They galloped together on Wednesday. Absolute Miracle went a bit faster and beat Nova Strike,” said Tan who had his two mounts partnered by their respective race-riders (Olivier Placais on Absolute Miracle and Shafiq on Nova Strike).

“Both jockeys were happy with the gallops. I hope both horses can run an improved race this Sunday.

“Nova Strike was a bit slow at his last start. I don’t know if it was the blinkers that affected him.

“On Tuesday, he had a jumpout without blinkers, and he went really. With the light weight and the return to the mile which he likes, I hope he can put up a good show.

“Absolute Miracle will also find the mile of the Committee’s Prize more suitable. The 1800m and 2000m distances were too long for him.

“He also won a barrier trial last Thursday. I liked the way he finished along the rails; Nova Strike also went well in that trial as he ran third.

“Honestly, I think they still face a difficult task, even if they both have no weight on their backs and they have also drawn quite well.

“I think it will take a real miracle for either to win the race.”

Nonetheless, Tan said the natural progression for both horses post-Committee’s Prize would be the Singapore Triple Crown series which kicks off with the Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile (1600m) on October 1, but will let them come through Sunday’s assignment first before casting anything in stone.

“Infantry is definitely running in the Kranji Mile, but I’ll see how those two pull up first,” said Tan.

“The Raffles Cup is the next option, but not the Gold Cup.”

The second Leg of the series moves to the Group 1 Raffles Cup on October 22 before winding up with the Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) on November 12.

Singapore Turf Club

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