In-form jockey Benny Woodworth got onto the scoresheet thanks to a pick-up ride on Friday night.
After Singapore Derby-winning jockey Joseph Azzopardi was stood down halfway through proceedings, the Malaysian rider got the call-up for both of the young Australian jockey’s remaining two rides – Qiji Commander and Safeer (NZ) (Savabeel).
While the Donna Logan-trained Qiji Commander, a last-start all-the-way winner, faltered badly after trying to beat a wide alley to go forward again in the $50,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over 1100m won by Soldado (see earlier report), Woodworth enjoyed better luck with the second chance ride.
Breaking fairly from his outside gate in the $70,000 Class 3 race over 1200m, Safeer dropped to the back in between runners while $11 favourite Lim’s Dream (Syahir Abdul) called the tune upfront.
Into the straight, all eyes were on Lim’s Dream as he hung on to his slender lead in a bid to make it a third win in a row. Charger (Simon Kok Wei Hoong) and Federation (John Powell), the two regarded as his main threats, were chipping away at the margin, but Lim’s Dream was making a good fist of the job of staving them off.
But all of a sudden, the realisation the real coup de grace could come from elsewhere dawned on everyone when a blue flash snuck up onto the rails - Safeer.
That run had begun when Lucky Lincoln (Daniel Moor) improved at the 750m mark, leaving a gap on the rails which gave Woodworth a golden chance to hug them.
Safeer again took the shortcuts home at the top of the straight after Woodworth momentarily switched his mount across before thinking better of it. Realising he would run into dead ends towards that end, he ducked back to the inside for the shortest way home.
Just when Lim’s Dream thought he had his two challengers covered, Safeer surged from the inside to get his measure by half-a-length. Charger and Federation had to settle for the minors, third and fourth place, another length and half-length away respectively.
A four-year-old by Savabeel, Safeer was bringing up his fifth win at his 20th start for prizemoney in excess of $210,000 for the Al-Arabiya Stable. It was his fourth success under Michael Clements’ care as the maiden win came at his second start in August 2017 for trainer Ricardo Le Grange.
“He’s a horse with a lot of ability, but who has not had much luck with the barriers,” said Clements.
“I think he’s drawn outside 10 at his last four runs. He scored his last win two starts ago (in a similar Class 3 race over 1200m) and he beat some good horses then.
“He needs to draw closer on the rails. Things went his way tonight.
“We may take the next step at the Merlion Trophy for him. The owner always had the confidence he would get there.”
Woodworth was for one happy he was not returning home empty-handed on Friday night, even if it came at the expense of a fellow rider.
“I was lucky to get two pick-up rides and I’m even luckier one of them won,” said Woodworth.
“The horse jumped out well, travelled well and got a run on the inside. At one stage, I elected to go to the outside but the run didn’t come through.
“He’s a talented horse, but if the pace is too slow, he pulls and that doesn’t suit him. When he gets the right run, he can then show he is a good horse.” -STC