Trainer to bow out after sixth Gold Cup win

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 November, 2003, 12:00am

Champion trainer Malcolm Thwaites gave a broad public hint of his imminent retirement from the Singapore scene in an emotional aftermath to his sixth win in yesterday's S$1.5 million Singapore Gold Cup with the high-class mare Zirna.

Thwaites, who was a front runner for the new expatriate trainer job in Hong Kong this year - which went to South African David Ferraris - but was overlooked for being 'too old', said on national television 'this is my sixth Gold Cup and it will be my last'.

Thwaites, 58, has been champion trainer of Singapore in each of the past three seasons and has won every feature race on the Singapore-Malaysian circuit. And he has made a habit of dominating the big occasions.

When asked to explain what he meant in his television interview, the trainer replied: 'There is nothing I can say at the moment, but I'll be making an announcement on Thursday.

'It's a shame, but when one door closes, another door opens,' he added. is biggest win was in the Group One S$3 million Singapore Airlines International Cup in May, 2000, with the grand campaigner Ouzo.

Zirna is raced by New Zealand businessman Eric Watson with renowned studmaster Russell Warwick under their Westbury Farm banner.

She has now had five starts in Singapore for three wins and has banked S$1.2 million in the process.

The tiny mare with the big motor sustained a withering burst down the centre of the Kranji straight to easily defeat gallant local galloper Moon Shadow (Eddie Wilkinson) by 13/4 lengths.

Dreyfuss (Shane Dye) gained third, a half-length behind Moon Shadow.

Dye gave Dreyfuss every chance but the four-year-old just weakened on his run in the final stages after bursting between runners and looking a certain winner coming to the furlong marker.

'He travelled very nicely and coming past the 300 metres, I thought were going to win,' Dye said. 'But today was 2,200 metres and it was the first time he's raced beyond 1,600 metres. If he'd had one more run over a journey I think he would have won today. He's a nice horse.'

Thwaites showed the depth of his feature-race experience when he counselled jockey Mark du Plessis to make sure he rode a patient race on the mare.

'Every year in the Singapore Gold Cup, a group of jockeys go mad and take off from the 1,000 metres,' Thwaites said. 'I told Mark to ensure he let them go and to wait patiently.'

Favourite Exaggerate, despite having the blinkers removed, raced too fiercely for jockey Saimee Jumaat and weakened in the concluding stages. He is unlikely to be considered for a start in the Hong Kong Vase on December 14.