Thwaites out to Blitz rivals
Malcolm Thwaites may have left Singapore 11 years after the mercurial Ivan Allan but have no doubts that he is a trainer in the very same mould.
On the Singapore-Malaysia racing circuit, Thwaites was always a name to respect, if not fear. He won every major race on the calendar, most of them many times, including six Singapore Gold Cups, the latest with Zirna in 2003.
'One of the things I most wanted to do was to be more involved with international racing,' Thwaites explained yesterday.
He won the inaugural Singapore Airlines International Cup (Group One, 2000 metres) at Kranji, with Ouzo, a horse he owned himself, in partnership with wife Shirley Yap and loyal client Tan Peng Quee. It was a true international Group One, with the runner-up being Sha Tin 2,000m course-record holder Jim And Tonic.
And now, that thirst for international success has seen Thwaites move his operation from Singapore to Macau, and committing a daring raid on tomorrow's $10 million Hong Kong Sprint with Natural Blitz, owned by Hong Kong Jockey Club member Danny Lam Yin-kee.
'This horse has incredible speed and I have no doubt he's the best sprinter I've ever trained,' said Thwaites. And although Natural Blitz has won eight of his nine starts in Macau, that's still a big call by the trainer because the list of sprinters he's handled is headed by Fisher, a former Horse of the Year and a legend on the MRA circuit.
Thwaites stops well short of saying Natural Blitz will be beating Hong Kong idol Silent Witness but, in either victory or defeat, he's looking forward to getting a line on the Macau speed demon.
'Comparing horses from these different jurisdictions is never easy,' said Thwaites, who was formerly the MRA handicapper before turning his attention to training.
'But I know we are a long way better than Dantana, and he was just over seven lengths behind Silent Witness in last year's Hong Kong Sprint. Our horse has a lot of speed and I hope he can be competitive.'