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After the Alwin Tan-trained Aniki sprinted past debutant Stop The Water to open his account in the $20,000 Open Maiden race (1100m) on Saturday, jockey Vlad Duric gave credit to trainer Steven Burridge for the improvement second-up.
The Australian handler, who trained the runner-up in the same race, was the one who saw Aniki play with his tongue during one of the morning gallops and advised Duric to put a tongue tie on the four-year-old gelding.
Duric suggested the addition of gear to Tan and it worked out perfectly, especially after the son of Outreach ran unplaced in a Class 4 Division 2 race (1100m) a month ago.
"Nice drop in grade. He had a beautiful run behind them and the additional tongue tie helped," said the four-time Singapore champion jockey who pulled off a hat-trick of wins after Green Star ($20) and Blue Idol ($26) took out the $50,000 Class 4 race (1600m) and the $30,000 Class 5 race (1700m) respectively later.
"Actually, Steve (Steven) was the one who told us to put the tongue tie on in the morning because he sticks his tongue out, so I told Alwin, but now his (Burridge) horse ran second (laughs)."
Tucked in third behind the pair of leaders, Stop The Water (Matthew Kellady) and Lim's Bighorn (A'Isisuhairi Kasim), $15 favourite Aniki started to give chase at the 300m under Duric's urgings.
Stop The Water overtook Lim's Bighorn and was plugging away towards the winning post when Aniki bounded past at the 100m to eventually score by one-and-three-quarters length.
Lim's Bighorn held on well to finish another one-and-a-half lengths away in third. The winning time was 1 min 5.03secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack.
Tan was pleased with the well-judged ride by Duric.
"Duric said he will jump positively from this tricky barrier (nine) and I thought the pace was too fast, so he sat in third," said the Singaporean conditioner.
"I thought it was good judgement from Duric, so credit to him. I thought Aniki would be well-supported because he trialled well before (won on 10 October) but didn't expect him to be the favourite here.
"I bought this horse through my agent friend in Australia for my new owner (Lee Shu Huey). She has another horse (Oppa) with (trainer) CT (Cheng Tee) Kuah.
"I'll see how he pulls up, then discuss with Duric and look for a suitable race next for him (Aniki). Hopefully, I can get a few more wins for the owner."
Aniki, which meant "older brother" in Japanese, had 10 runs in Australia for six placings before making his debut in Singapore last month. After his first win from two starts here, Aniki has cashed in a first pay cheque of more than $10,000 for connections.