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Charger the right boost for Stewart

Stephen Crutchley-trained Toast Trusts’ 8YO again pulls Australian jockey out of slump

Honesty and consistency were the two qualities that popped up after Charger won his eighth race at Kranji on Sunday.

But jockey Ronnie Stewart will also look up to the eight-year-old entire for a more personal reason – drought-breaker.

When news came through the triple Singapore Gold Cup-winning jockey (El Dorado in 2008, 2009 and 2011) was returning after an 11-year hiatus, many had assumed he would easily slot back to his old hunting ground like a duck to water.

Stewart has instead found himself taking a month of Sundays to break his duck. 

Beginning his new stint in mid-March, the lightweight Australian hoop had to wait until April 30 and his 40th ride to finally get the monkey off his back. Charger was his saviour in a modest Class 5 race. 

The old adage “when it rains, it pours” could not have rung truer.

The all-the-way victory not only triggered a hat-trick of wins that day, but also regular visits to the Kranji winner’s enclosure in the ensuing weeks and even months.

However, Stewart hit another speed bump, albeit not as bad, after winner No. 14 Prosperous Return saluted on July 16.

Right on cue, old marvel Charger has returned to his rescue yet again. Global Spirit later made it a brace for Stewart.

Unlike last time, when he dictated terms, Charger ($42) came from a midfield spot to defeat his nine rivals in the Class 4 Division 2 race (1,200m), the $50,000 Inferno 2020 Stakes.

After whipping around the field three wide mid-race, the son of Dick Turpin pressed on with a sustained run to beat Sacred Judgement (Mark Zahra) by a head.

Debut winner Fadaboy (Yusoff Fadzli) was third, a neck away. 

The winning time was 1min 10.37sec for the 1,200m on the short course.

“He’s an eight-year-old, but he was spot-on,” said Stewart.

“It took me a while to get going when I came back, but he’s the one who got me kicking off with my first winner.

“I’ve had three weeks with no winners, and he’s got the job done for me again.

“It’s also nice to ride a winner on a big day. Big thanks to Stephen Crutchley and his team.”

Stewart later rode Nowyousee for trainer Tan Kah Soon to an unplaced finish in the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1,200m).

Crutchley, too, had no better luck with Fame Star despite the appointment of English champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa for the steering job.

But the first-season New Zealand trainer was still delighted to have chalked up his ninth winner, and his seventh for his main supporter, Constance Cheng of the Toast Trusts & J Ho Stable.

“Today he drew well. He’s so honest and always runs so well,” said Crutchley.

“There were some good horses in here, and he’s managed to beat them. As he didn’t have to carry weight, I wasn’t too worried where he was, three wide.

“He’ll be back up to Class 3. The way he’s working and racing, he’s worth a shot and he’ll get in at a light weight.”

Charger is no world-beater, but he started off as a promising juvenile, even running second to Be Bee in the 2017 Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1,200m).

Though he did not show the same prowess in the Singapore Three-Year-Old series, he still carved out a bread-and-butter career in Class 3 and 4 company.

With a record that reads eight wins, eight seconds and six thirds from 59 starts, Charger is around $10,000 shy of the half-million mark in stakes earnings for Cheng and partners.

HORSE RACING