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Punters might have been kept in suspense for a moment to see if Ghalib or Lim’s Craft won the $70,000 Class 3 race (1400m) on Saturday, but regardless of who won, trainer Steven Burridge was going to be in the winner’s circle.
The photo finish showed Ghalib got his head down where it mattered to beat his stablemate by the barest of margins on the line, but with relative daylight to third, it was an easy watch for the Australian conditioner over the final furlong.
While Burridge's third runner and likely favourite Asif was an early scratching from the race, Ghalib jumped as the $8 favourite. After beginning well from barrier one, jockey Manoel Nunes was happy to settle on the rails behind Rambo (Benny Woodworth), who led early with I Am Sacred (Jerlyn Seow) in second.
Meanwhile, jockey Ronnie Stewart was happy to take his medicine from barrier nine on Lim's Craft – who started as the $31 second favourite on jumping - to settle near the rear of the field early but made up good position on the bend to be midfield with cover when the outspread field turned for home.
In fact, when Rambo kicked early in the straight to put a length or two on the chasing pack, Stewart had Lim's Craft on Ghalib's back, and when Nunes balanced up the odds-on pop to make his winning run, it was a Burridge race in two with 300m to go.
While Burridge was happy to watch what was unfolding in the final 200m, Stewart would have fancied his chances as Lim's Craft levelled up to Ghalib and put his nose in front on occasion. But in an epic battle to the wire, Nunes got the most out of the favourite to win.
The race for third – albeit four lengths behind the first two - also came down to a photo with Grand Avante (Saifudin Ismail) edging out Energy Baby (Rosman Iskandar) by a short head.
Ghalib's third win in Singapore took his prizemoney to over $100,000 for the Al-Arabiya Stable. The winning time was 1 min 22.11secs for the 1400m on the Short Course.
The win was also the first time the I Am Invincible four-year-old had saluted since being transferred over from ex-Kranji trainer Michael Clements' stable in September; something Burridge was very happy about.
"Nice to win with Ghalib after a few (three) good runs and to win another race for (owner) Mansoor (Gandhi)," said Burridge.
"But to be honest, I thought the old boy (Lim's Craft) had him in the last 50m, so that was a real gusty effort for him (Ghalib) to get the nod.
"I thought there was nothing between them before the race and it was only the barriers that made the difference in the end.
"Very tough for Lim's Craft to jump from the outside, so it was a terrific effort for him to look like the winner late.
"In saying that, Ghalib took a while to get through some traffic when making his run and I thought he was battling, so it was really pleasing that he found the line."
Of the scratching of Asif, Burridge was disappointed but not overly concerned with the pre-race mishap.
"He (Asif) just kicked out in his stall overnight so we had to scratch him," he explained.
"Nothing serious and I'm pretty sure he would've gone close too, so we could have had three in the photo."
Nunes agreed with Burridge that the gate made all the difference.
"The inside barrier definitely helped today," said Nunes, who saluted earlier on My Boss ($7) in the $30,000 Class 5 Division 2 race (1400m) and made it a treble in last race with Last Supper ($13) in the $50,000 Class 4 race over 1200m.
"We overraced early, so having the cover helped him to settle, but he still showed great courage to hold off Ronnie's horse (Lim Craft).
"I said to him (Ronnie) after the line that I thought we got the head down at the right time, so I was confident we had won.
"He's (Ghalib) a lovely horse and I'm pleased for Steven and the owners, but I think he may be better suited to 1200m in the future."
But for his third winner, Last Supper, Nunes reckoned the son of Grunt will appreciate getting over more ground next year.
"I think (trainer) James (Peters) has done a great job with Last Supper," said the Brazilian hoop.
"We wanted to win today but also to educate him (Last Supper) going forward, so it worked out perfectly. He got cover, travelled well and still won while learning. He has a good future over longer."