Te Akau Singapore's Super Start

Date: 5 Jan 2020

Te Akau Singapore's Super Start

After winning the 2019 Singapore Trainers' Premiership, which he also won in 2015 and 2017 to add to his five New Zealand titles, Te Akau's Mark Walker has started the season in style.

On New Year's Day, the first day of the new season, Mark bagged a winning treble and added to that on Saturday with a Raffles' Racing horse making his Singapore debut ... as the Singapore Turf Club reports ...

Popular local jockey Benny Woodworth had a day out on Saturday after he booted home his 400th Kranji winner before knocking two more wins for a superb riding treble for good measure.

The milestone for the Malaysian hoop came at the first pin of the hat-trick of wins aboard $7 odds-on favourite Sacred Gift in the $20,000 Open Maiden race over 1000m.

The youthful 47-year-old, who took silver to Vlad Duric in the Singapore premiership last year, went on to ride a race-to-race double, before wrapping the red-letter day with a hat-trick of wins.

A former four-time champion apprentice jockey, and once in the senior riding ranks on the Malayan Racing Association (MRA) circuit, Woodworth was hot on the heels of Duric in the second half of the 2019 season only to see a late slew of suspensions for careless riding derail his dreams of a first title at Kranji.

He even appealed against the suspensions and got a stay of execution as a last lifeline to keep his chances alive, but Duric eventually drew clear for an undisputed third consecutive crown.

For Woodworth, it was a bit of an anticlimactic conclusion to what had been otherwise a prolific season, but the gifted rider has bounced back in the best possible way at the second meeting of the new season (he was still serving his suspension at the New Year's Day meeting).

The big haul has already put him at the top with French jockey Marc Lerner whose double on Saturday also took his score to three.

As for Duric, the defending champion jockey did start his new campaign on a good note with a double on January 1 - Afalonhro and Altair (both for Mark Walker) - but drew a blank on Saturday and was even stood down for dehydration halfway through the day.

“It's great to get my 400th win at Kranji. I take this opportunity to thank the Singapore Turf Club for extending my licence for another year,” said Woodworth.

“Last year was one my best seasons in Singapore and it was a close fight with Vlad. It wasn't the end I would have hoped for, but I'm still happy with my season.

“I couldn't have hoped for a better start to the new year. Sacred Gift won very well, he has some barrier issues, but (Singapore Turf Club starter) John Pepe has done a very good job with him.

“To be honest, I expected him to win as the field was not very strong, but I think there is more improvement to come out of him."


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