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How good is this Waikuku? He’s a beauty! Won in great style from a deep draw and top weight over 1,800m for the first time. Bring on the BMW Hong Kong Derby now – @Shaheel07
The overwhelming thought from many on Saturday was that we had just seen the Derby winner.
Waikuku’s run was everything you would want from a contender – overcoming the outside gate, carrying the top weight and handling the step up to 1,800m with aplomb.
International fixed-odds bookmakers responded immediately, with three clear standouts – Waikuku joining Dark Dream and Furore – at the top of the markets, all in the vicinity of $4. Eagle-eyed punters could have got as much as $15 about Waikuku just a few weeks ago.
The Jockey Club handicappers boosted Waikuku’s rating eight points to 108 on Monday, meaning he will be the highest-rated horse in the Derby, in front of Dark Dream and Furore (both 104) with Mission Tycoon (102) the only other runner rated in triple figures.
Over the past decade, every horse who has won the Derby has been rated at least 102, so that narrows down the chances.
It also creates another instalment of the “master and apprentice” or “mentor and protégé” contests between John Size and Frankie Lor Fu-chuen, which always create plenty of interest.
Lor, who won the first two legs of the four-year-old series with Furore and Mission Tycoon, certainly took notice of Waikuku’s run.
“My [former] boss’ horse looked very good,” Lor said. “We will just do the best we can. They have good form, the draw will play a role, we need some luck, and we will see. I’m very happy with how my horses are.”
Lor’s Derby hopes will have a hit-out on Tuesday morning, taking part in the same 1,000m barrier trial down the Sha Tin straight.
The final field for the Derby will be announced on Wednesday, but it is hard to see the winner coming from outside the first handful in the market.
Great to see Callan Murray punch home his first winner in Singapore. It was a cracking front-running ride – @adamcampton
After enduring a tough run during his six months in Hong Kong, it is terrific to see the earnest South African hit the ground running in his new home, lifting Ganassi to victory on Sunday.
“I’m rapt. I’m really happy I’ve got a winner on the board,” Murray said. “It didn’t work out in Hong Kong. It was a difficult time for me. First I broke my nose and then I got suspended. It just went a bit ugly, but I was riding 100-1 chances every week. There was nothing I could do to make them win, but it was, without a doubt, still a good learning experience.”
Great to see @callan_murray get off the mark at the @SGTurfClub aboard to @meagherracingsg-trained Ganassi, a son of @ArrowfieldStud’s Champion Sire Snitzel @RacingGuru @SAJockeyAcademy @ToffaSants @racingsingapore @GazzaDP @Aushorse_TBA pic.twitter.com/e07M6gfbd6— TSA News (@TBredSANews) March 3, 2019
There was also some news regarding Murray’s replacement in Hong Kong this week, with the Jockey Club knocking back Regan Bayliss’ request to partner Redkirk Warrior (the favourite for the 2015 Derby) in Saturday’s Group One Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.
Bayliss, who is yet to break into the winner’s circle after three meetings, was informed that with a host of jockeys already injured (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) and suspended (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu, Jack Wong Ho-nam, Joao Moreira and Chad Schofield), he was required to remain in Hong Kong.
That leaves 18 available riders for Sha Tin on Sunday, the bare minimum the Jockey Club wants to have available to owners and trainers on a card that features some races with 14 runners. It didn’t want to risk his overnight flight being cancelled and not being able to take his mounts.
But at a guess, if someone who had built up a little bit more equity, say Zac Purton, asked to ride in one of the World’s Top 100 Races, he would have been given the green light. Schofield rode at the meeting last year. Plenty of jockeys (Hugh Bowman, Tommy Berry and Damien Oliver did it last month) make overnight flights after riding in Australia on a Saturday to compete at Sha Tin on a Sunday.
But like most things in life, it is a privilege that has to be earned.