Mahadi hums along with mare Hamama
Seasoned horseman has proven training chops in his first five months at the office
Kranji’s latest addition to the training ranks, Mahadi Taib, has done exceedingly well at his maiden ride onto the rollercoaster life of a racehorse trainer.
Joining late in June, the 51-year-old Singaporean was not expected to fly off the starting blocks.
After spending 36 years learning the rudiments of his craft from the best like Michael Clements and David Hill, he was not totally wet behind the ears.
But, with a small yard made up of mostly stable transfers with bread-and-butter pedigree, one or two winners would be nice.
Just ask this year’s newly crowned champion trainer, Tim Fitzsimmons.
It took the Australian five months and 22 starters before he broke the duck with Mega Gold.
Mahadi has fared a lot better. At only his second meeting on July 2, Jungle King gave him his first win at only his third try.
He did have quiet spells – as trainers do – but without fanfare, he has eventually chalked up a first-season tally of nine winners from 93 runners.
His strike rate of 9.68 per cent is the third-highest among the local trainers at Kranji, only bettered by David Kok’s 11.03 per cent and Tan Kah Soon’s 10.88.
Granted, these do not make for earth-shattering statistics but, with the ragtag of horses in his toolbox, it is a commendable performance nonetheless.
Mahadi himself felt like he has “surpassed natural”, a nod to his top-rated horse Surpass Natural.
Despite being plagued by bad legs, the Elvstroem seven-year-old has been nursed back to fitness, and nearly pulled it off at his last start.
“I’m very happy (with my performance). I didn’t think I would make it,” said Mahadi.
“I’ve had nine winners. Hopefully, next year will be very good for me, too.”
Hamama, his last winner at Saturday’s final meeting, was without a doubt another ringing endorsement of his training chops.
The American-bred mare is also a hand-me-down and, to compound matters, she was a bleeder.
The previous one-time winner came from Clements, the trainer Mahadi looks up to as his mentor.
The master has helped his former disciple add another building block to his slowly-growing stable (now stands at 26 wards) but, more pointedly, he has taught him well.
In a remarkable training feat, Hamama ($38) won the $50,000 Class 4 Division 1 race (1,000m) first-up from the mandatory three-month bleeder’s suspension.
Ridden by Saifudin Ismail, the pint-sized chestnut with the baldy face was partially wedged between joint-leaders First Choice (Jerlyn Seow) and Opunake (Koh Teck Huat) for most of the way.
As she poked her nose through upon straightening, she closed off with the better sectionals, clocking a slick 58.71sec for the 1,000m.
Debutant Faithful Leader (Ibrahim Mamat) let down strongly to grab second, ½-length astern and the same margin in front of Hurricane (Ronnie Stewart).
“Thank you to the owner and the stable, and every guy who does a lot of work on this horse,” said Mahadi.
Saifudin was also thankful for the support even if the veteran Malaysian does not command the biggest book of rides, let alone the best quality.
“I’m very happy with the way this year of my career (has gone),” said the 54-year-old hoop.
“I got a lot of support here and there. The horses may not be good enough but I always try my best; the more winners, the better.
“I was quite happy with the way the mare ran today. She’s quite fast, coming to the straight, she picked up very fast.
“She trialled good a couple of times. I expected her to run good today.
“She got a bit tired the last bit but I know I could make it.”
Saifudin made it a rare double when he steered $200 chance Moongate Star home in the penultimate event of 2022, the Class 3 race over 1,100m, to take his final tally to 11 winners.