Winning Double - Return to Racing for Te Akau Singapore

Date: 12 Jul 2020

Winning Double - Return to Racing for Te Akau Singapore

Reigning Champion Trainer Mark Walker snared two victories when racing resumed following a three-month Covid-19 interruption on Saturday at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore.

After Hadeer (Savabeel) fought hard for second following a tough trip on pace over 1000 metres, another Singaporean debutante, Ronaldo's Dream (3g Darci Brahma - Sweet Dreams Baby), went one better with a dominant performance in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden 1100 metres for Te Akau apprentice Aiman Kamaruddin (a4).

Both Hadeer and Ronaldo's Dream are owned by Fortuna NZ Racing Stable (Mgr: John Galvin).

Educated and prepared by Te Akau NZ trainer Jamie Richards before transferring to Walker, Ronaldo's Dream produced two strong trial efforts for fourth and second, respectively, in July last at Te Rapa, which led to three comparable race performances including a last start second in October at Taupo. 

“His trials weren't that great on the poly (track), but I actually trialled him again deliberately during the week to get him used to the kick-back a bit more,” said Walker, of Ronaldo's Dream.

“He was panicky about it in his first trial, so I think the key to him winning was trialling him again on Tuesday even though he was racing on Saturday.

“He'd made good ground when getting out wider in his trial and he's done that again to beat a really strong Restricted Maiden field. He'd had race experience at home in New Zealand, too, and I think that held him in good stead as well. He was ready to race just before we went into lockdown, so he's been here awhile and had the benefit of extra time to acclimatise. 

“Full credit to John (Galvin), he's smart in what he does with his horses. They realised after three runs he wasn't a Group horse at home, and would probably mature into a nicer older horse. So, instead of winning a $10,000 - $15,000 Maiden he's now won a $75,000 Maiden which is around $82,500 NZ at the moment.”

Walker expects Ronaldo's Dream to keep improving. “Like a lot of Darci's (Brahma) up here, they get better with time and some age on them. He's a sound horse and he's got the potential to win a fair bit more,” he said.

Bred by David Ellis CNZM & Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM, by Champion Sire Darci Brahma (Danehill), whom Ellis purchased, and trained by Te Akau to win five Group One races. Ronaldo's Dream is from a Van Nistelrooy (Storm Cat) mare that has now left six individual winners of 11 races, including dual stakes' winning filly Windborne (Darci Brahma) and Group 1 placed stakes' winning filly Darci's Dream (Darci Brahma), both also owned by Fortuna and trained by Te Akau. It has proven a very successful cross.

Walker also has plenty of time for second placed Hadeer. “We bought him from Lindsay Park, when they dispersed him through an Inglis Digital Sale,” he said.

“I always do a lot of study on those sorts of horses. Even though he's by Savabeel, and no disrespect to that great stable but I think he's more of a sprinter/miler. They'd tried to make him stay and I'm not sure he would, but he showed plenty yesterday over 1000 metres. Although he was three wide near the pace, it was the place to be. The fence was racing a touch heavier than the outside, so he was in the right part of the track.

“A lot of horses, too, that we target, we know they have the pedigrees to improve with age. Even those that have been tried in Australia, where they have such a heavy focus on two-year-old racing, sometimes we look to buy horses that we think should improve with time and maturity." 

Later in the programme, Walker saddled Admiral Winston (3g Declaration of War - Montclair) to win the $30,000 Class 5 1000 metres. From barrier nine, he skirted wide in fourth under Benny Woodworth, making the home bend awkwardly, but charged to the line nearly three lengths clear.

The winner of three from 11 had been racing in good form and Walker rated him a top four contender. 

“He's been a frustrating horse, after showing a lot early,” Walker said. “He went through a growing stage and started doing a few things wrong in the barriers and being late-scratched one day. 

“Even yesterday, he did a bit wrong again. He wanted to run straight at the half-mile instead of going around the corner. But once he puts it all together he's going to be a lot better than what he's shown so far, because he's getting stronger now. He was up 17-kilos in bodyweight, yesterday, which shows his maturity.

“We bought him at the (2018) Gold Coast Yearling Sale. He was passed in, but I like Declaration of War and although Dave (Ellis) and I weren't at the sale we got Clint Donovan to have a look at him for us. He wasn't too expensive and we got him for $30,000. He's owned by Dave's great client Ronald Lau.” 

Admiral Winston carries a Danzig (Northern Dancer) cross as the grand-sire of Declaration of War, through War Front, and the Danehill line of dam sire Rock of Gibraltar. 

Reflecting on the time away from racing, Walker said: “It's been a frustrating time for everyone. Not just here in Singapore, but New Zealand and everywhere around the world. It's unprecedented times. 

“There wasn't much of a crowd because only the owners with horses racing could attend, but they weren't allowed in the parade ring and segregated from the trainers. It was certainly a lot different and the Club is taking every precaution possible to keep racing going.” 

The winner of three premiership titles in Singapore, alongside five previously in New Zealand, Walker is currently second on the table this year (23 wins) and one behind the leader. 

“Michael (Clements) has such a strong team of horses, so he'd be the favourite to win the trainer's title this year. But, there's a long way to go yet and the competition is good.”


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