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Hurricane too powerful

Fitzsimmons’ 4YO steps up on debut last to blow rivals away with rousing victory

Hurricane overturned a disappointing debut last with a commanding all-the-way win in the the $20,000 Open Maiden race over the Polytrack 1,000m at Kranji on Saturday.

The $72 quote reflected punters’ lack of confidence in the Shamexpress four-year-old in the wake of an ordinary first outing in a similar contest on Aug 28.

Then partnered by Wong Chin Chuen, he was beaten for speed and looked all at sea when trapped deep midfield. His condition then gave out in the straight.

Under Simon Kok’s guidance on Saturday, Hurricane stormed to the front from a lower draw (in 2, compared to 6 in his debut).

Though hassled by the hot favourite Lucky Charm (A’Isisuhairi Kasim), he was noticeably travelling the better upon straightening.

As Kok gave a shake of the reins, his mount skipped away to an easy 33/4-length victory from Fabu (Bernardo Pinheiro) in a smart 58.61 seconds. 

The rout mirrored better the potential he showed at his two barrier trial wins, more so the first one when he cantered in by 61/2 lengths.

Trainer Tim Fitzsimmons was, however, not puzzled at all by the night-and-day displays between Hurricane’s two starts.

“He’s got a bit of class about him. His first trial was really impressive,” said the Australian.

“I probably made a mistake. As he’s quite green, and I saw he wore winkers at his trials in New Zealand, we had them on at his first start.

“But he stepped slowly that day, and once they crossed him, he couldn’t get to the front. He copped a lot of kickback and then weakened out of it.

“We sent him back to the trials without winkers, and he trialled good. From the handy barrier today, I told Simon to go to the front to avoid the kickback.

“It was nice to see him do it the way we knew he could do it today.”

Hurricane is owned by Buffalo Stable’s Peter Lee, who has been Fitzsimmons’ biggest supporter and good friend.

Kok has been riding on the crest of a wave since getting his employment pass issues ironed out in late August.

The Malaysian celebrated his new status as a freelance jockey with a treble on Aug 28, followed by a four-timer two weeks later.

“I have to thank Tim for the support. CC (Wong) was the one who trialled him last week. It was a very good trial, he’s a big-striding horse,” said Kok.

“This time, he was able to get to the front and relax. He needs to get more experience and mature.”

Long stuck on a solitary 2022 winner on July 17 with Wealth Elite, the former two-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey has leapt to 10 winners in the space of three weeks after he rode a double on Saturday.

The brace came aboard a horse who has been an old marvel to him, King Power Stable’s eight-year-old Augustano ($34) in the $50,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over 1,200m. 

The pair has combined for an outstanding record of five successes in eight starts.

The first win came in 2018, when the son of Hard Spun was then prepared by ex-Kranji trainer Lee Freedman.

“I think I understand this horse inside out,” said Kok.

“He likes to bowl along in front, like he used to do when Lee Freedman trained him. The blinkers back on helped and I was able to keep him happy.

“I thought he got tired in the last furlong, but once I switched the whip to the left, he got his mind back on the job.

“I knew I won in the last stride as he literally put his head down.”

Eight Ball (Matthew Kellady) flew home on the outside, but came up short by a nose.