Senor Don has done it again
Last two Cup races beckon after underrated Argentinian-bred scores three wins on the trot
Bold front runner Senor Don was on the cusp of getting swamped, but his bulldog qualities again saw him outmuscle all comers in a thrilling finish to the $100,000 Class 1 race (1,600m) on Saturday.
The gutsy win capped a three-in-a-row for the Argentinian-bred gelding, with the two previous victories posted in similar fashion.
The Senor Candy six-year-old also beat a Class 1 field at his last start, but pinched the race by the skin of his teeth.
Given the meatier opposition this time, not to mention his second widest alley, even his hardcore fans must have thought a third hurrah might be a bridge too far.
Not only has he built a bridge towards two races that looked out of reach in June, the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1,800m) on Oct 15 and Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2,000m) on Nov 19. But that sheer will to win has also made him a dark horse it would pay not to underestimate any more.
Though Senor Don came under siege late as the swoopers descended thick and fast, he never buckled, aided by a heady ride from apprentice jockey Krisna Thangamani, the stand-in for the indisposed fellow rookie Yusoff Fadzli.
From the way Prosperous Return was charging alongside him, many thought the race was done and dusted. But the Fighting Sun five-year-old could not find when Jake Bayliss pulled the trigger.
The favourite Relentless (Manoel Nunes) also chimed in on the outside. But a three-wide trip first-up from a two-month layoff found him out. He still ran a creditable fifth, beaten a nose by Prosperous Return, in a bunched-up cluster you could throw a blanket over.
In the end, it was two long shots who came the closest to Senor Don ($55). So Hi Class (Koh Teck Huat, $191) landed from the clouds to run second, denied by a head.
Trumpy (A’Isisuhairi Kasim, $71) took third place, separated by an identical margin. The tierce was a whopping $5,528.
Senor Don was bringing up his fifth win in 22 starts for prize money of over $290,000 for the Yongs of Chelsea Stable.
“A big thank you to Mr Yong (Mee Him), who champions so much for Singapore racing. He has been a great supporter of mine and he is also a great family friend,” said winning trainer Ricardo Le Grange.
The South African never fails to praise owners who back him unconditionally, especially with horses in some sort of strife.
Senor Don was a hidden gem in his yard due to an ailment that went undetected for a long time.
He did show he was Group material in his first two seasons, but somehow fell by the wayside halfway through 2021.
Standing at only two Polytrack mile wins in Class 2 and 3 company all this while, the baldy-faced chestnut inexplicably treaded water.
The riddle was solved once it came to light he had a stress fracture on the shoulder.
“To do what he’s done after a serious injury in such a short time, it’s just amazing,” said Le Grange.
“I have to say massive congratulations to Krisna. He does all the work on this horse, he knows him so well.
“When Yusoff was stood down, the right thing to do was to put Krisna on, I’m so happy I did it.”
Senor Don may have taken the race billed as the QEII Cup trial, but Super Impact (Bayliss, $15) has also staked his claim after his smashing win in the Class 3 race (1,600m). But, it looks like trainer Donna Logan’s Kiwi import would be more suited by the Singapore Gold Cup.
The day also marked apprentice jockey Fahmi Rosman’s first win at his 12th ride. He won on Silent Is Gold ($17) in the last race.
Nunes, who was returning from a neck injury that kept him out of the saddle for three months, may have missed out on Relentless, but he still came away with one winner – What You Like ($19).