Owner's dream is a punter's nightmare
'Any owner's dream' was how trainer John Moore summed up the eight-year-old Master Marauder after the underrated gelding upset the favourites in the Durham Handicap (1,600m).
It wasn't a win to please punters but Master Marauder (Terry Wong Chi-wai) has made a habit of that over the years and pushed his earnings to over HK$3 million in landing his first Class Three prize at odds of better than 31-1.
'He'd be a delight for any owner,' Moore said. 'He's a lower-grade horse, he's never had any pretensions to being any better than that but he's as honest as the day is long and pays his way every season. He's won seven races now, close to HK$3.5 million in stakes and the Master Syndicate is one of my regular clients, has been for years, and they've had a lot of fun with him.'
It was hardly the first time the gelding has tipped punters upside down, with his three previous wins all at odds of over 20-1 as well.
Stewards inquired into the improved effort but Moore explained that Master Marauder has a problem with 'tying up', which was the reason for his poor last-start run under Alex Lai Hoi-wing. 'Today he got his way in the lead, which has always been important to him, he had a postage stamp weight after the claim for Terry Wong and did the job well,' said Moore, but the win will come at a cost.
'He's always been a Class Four horse but winning today with a little bit up the sleeve like that will probably see him stuck in Class Three now.'
With that in mind, Moore added that retirement may come sooner rather than later for Master Marauder. 'He's eight now, I think it'll be tough for him at his revised rating and I think the syndicate is starting to think about retiring him at the end of the season and letting him go and find a nice green paddock somewhere,' Moore said. 'I think he's earned that.'
The surprise win was the one ray of light for Moore on a day which had not promised to be a great one on paper.
'Amazing Win ran okay in the first race but Wealthy unfortunately came back with quite a bit of blood in his throat after his race,' Moore said. 'He followed the winner, Hawkes Bay, and I was disappointed when he didn't kick at the finish but the blood explains that.'