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Roda Robot rises from reboot

First-up win shows that trainer Jason Ong’s hard-working horse can use a holiday, too

A “Workhorse of the Year” award ought to be handed out to Roda Robot at the upcoming 2023 Singapore Racing Awards gala night on May 28.

Unfortunately, that medal is only hypothetical. But, moot point or not, Jason Ong’s hardy campaigner would have been hands down the most deserving recipient.

Excluding his debut run at the end of the 2022 season, the Mongolian Khan four-year-old had had 31 starts under his belt in the last 12 months – which translates to around three runs per month.

No other horse at Kranji slips into racing plates as often as the Warplan Racing Stable’s galloper.

For good measure, he is not just a running machine, but quite the winning machine, too.

Coming off a ground-saving run under Marc Lerner in the $50,000 Class 4 race (1,400m) on May 12, he presented the best in the run to the line, to clock up his seventh win. Six placings have also boosted his stakes earnings past the $210,000 mark for connections.

Other than a first victory over 1,400m, the one notable variation to that latest success was the timing between runs.

While all his previous six wins (between 1,600m and 2,000m) were forged in full prep, it was this time a salute first-up from a break – tellingly, his first ever.

The irony was not lost on Ong, who, however, recognised that even a Duracell bunny cannot go on forever.

When once asked about Roda Robot’s unparalleled work rate, Ong said that the more he runs, the more he thrives.

The 2023 Singapore champion trainer deserves kudos for spotting any tipping point to that theory, though.

“He’s had a tough prep and he’s been showing signs that he’s had enough,” said Ong.

“He’s also still a growing horse, he’s only four. So I gave him a good spell (six weeks).

“I gave him one trial (May 2), and he showed he had come back good. He’s put on weight and he was a lot more relaxed.”

Previously inclined to get a touch above himself mid-race, Roda Robot reproduced the same calmer disposition at his racing comeback.

Usually closer to the speed, he settled midfield along the rail without doing too much work.

With leader Pacific Warrior (Benny Woodworth) in his sights at the 400m, Roda Robot ($69) lengthened up nicely towards a ¾-length win in 1min 22.17sec.

“I was pleased to see he didn’t take off in his first few sectionals like before,” said Ong.

“I took the blinkers off as he was dropping back to 1,400m. He’s mentally more relaxed now, which is very encouraging.

“He didn’t lead but I didn’t want him to be too far back either. I told Marc to jump him good, switch him off and he will show a good finish, which he did.”

Lerner is Daniel Meagher’s No. 1 jockey, but as a freelancer, he is building up a healthy strike rate with Ong. They were combining for their third win in as many meetings after Healthy Baby and Engine Start.

Granted, Ong’s three go-to riders Bruno Queiroz, Koh Teck Huat and Jerlyn Seow were all suspended on May 12, but the Frenchman was only too happy to turn supersub.

“Credit to Jason for bringing this horse back to his best after a break,” said Lerner.

“He’s a horse who’s run a lot. The freshen-up helped him, the ground probably helped him, too.

“I didn’t get any set instructions, other than to settle him where he was comfortable. In the straight, he gave a nice kick.”

Ong firmed his grip on back-to-back titles with a treble, courtesy of earlier wins from Atlas ($19) and Pacific Star ($36).

Since his transfer from ex-Kranji trainer Shane Baertschiger, Atlas has raced four times without success for Ong. He finally broke through in the $30,000 Class 5 Division 2 race (1,600m) by leading all the way for Carlos Henrique.

Last-start winner Pacific Star (Benny Woodworth) went back-to-back in the $30,000 Class 5 race (1,400m), finishing right on the grandstand side for a 2¼-length win.

Ong now leads on 42 winners, 17 clear of Meagher, whose only winner was Lim’s Force ($31).

manyan@sph.com.sg

 

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