It's the Singapore Guineas now for Mr Malek
Exciting NZ-bred passes 1,600m test with distinction to take on Inferno in Group 1 race
Oscar Racing Stable's exciting galloper Mr Malek not only passed his first 1,600m test, but he did it in spectacular fashion to put his hands up for the $400,000 Singapore Guineas in two weeks' time.
The Group 1 feature will also be run over the metric mile.
The Lee Freedman-trained horse came charging home on the outside on the yielding turf track on Saturday, under jockey A'Isisuhairi "Harry" Kasim, to win by three-quarter lengths from Yulong Edition.
The top-rated Countofmontecristo finished third, a short head away, after being shouted the winner when he hit the front with 200m left to run.
It was Mr Malek's first attempt over the 1,600m, after his last-start third to Inferno in the Group 2 Singapore Classic over 1,400m. All his five previous victories were over 1,200m.
While certain quarters may argue that he carried the lightest load of 50kg, there was no denying either that his brilliant turn of foot was smashing.
He won in a good time, 1min 34.89sec, on the rain-affected track and from the widest draw in the 13-horse field.
Freedman entered the New Zealand-bred in Saturday's $100,000 Class 1 event to test his ability over the 1,600m in anticipation of a clash with Inferno in the Guineas.
"It was a funny decision to run him in today's race," said the Australian Hall of Famer.
"He needed to win to progress to the Guineas and he's done just that.
"If he didn't run well, we could have gone back to sprints and pressed towards the Lion City Cup instead.
"When you know you're going to bump into a horse like Inferno in the Guineas, first you must make sure your horse can run the trip."
Originally scheduled pre-coronavirus pandemic for May, the $400,000 Group 1 Lion City Cup over 1,200m) - which is Kranji's premier sprint - will now be held on Oct 25.
Although Freedman could not have hoped for a better Singapore Guineas trial, he had his heart in his mouth when he saw how far back Mr Malek still was in the home straight.
"At the 300m, I thought he was 100-1 to win," he said.
"Countofmontecristo was a few lengths clear and running away, but Harry knows this horse well now. He's riding in really great form and he showed really good timing.
"Mr Malek is a horse who still has scope for improvement, but he will take Inferno on in the Guineas.
"At least, I know the horse can run the trip and it's not an unknown quantity any more. On that run, he's going to the Guineas."