Sun Marshal salutes in S'pore Derby
Champion trainer Freedman saddles monstrous quinella with Mr Clint finishing second in all-outsider affair
Sun Marshal led an all-outsider finish in the $1 million Group 1 Singapore Derby over 1,800m yesterday, ending What's New's brilliant run in the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge.
Second, just a neck away, was last year's Group 1 Singapore Guineas winner Mr Clint. The result gave champion Singapore trainer Lee Freedman a quinella which paid a huge $1,213 for a $2 outlay.
Freedman, in fact, had five runners in the race - with Heliosphere finishing sixth, Circuit Mission eighth and Super Dynasty 13th in the capacity field of 16.
The Ricardo Le Grange-trained King Louis was third, 11/4 lengths behind Mr Clint and a length in front of the Cliff Brown-trained What's New, who was gallant in defeat as the $25 second favourite.
Unlike her wins with the lucky run next to the rail in the first two legs of the 4YO Challenge - the Group 3 Silver Bowl over 1,400m on June 9 and the Group 2 Stewards' Cup over 1,600m on June 30 - What's New had to race on the outside of one horse who had taken the run on the fence, after jumping from Gate 13. She had only three horses behind her.
The only female candidate came home with a good run on the far side and looked a possibility for a fleeting moment.
But her earlier effort and, probably the yielding track which did not suit a fair number of other contenders, took its toll.
Perth jockey Joseph Azzopardi, who does a lot of morning trackwork for Freedman, certainly deserves accolades for a gem of a ride. He stayed handy and then timed his run to perfection.
Stablemate Circuit Mission led by two lengths on settling down from Eye Guy. Next, a similar gap away, were Super Dynasty and Magic Wand.
They were followed Sun Marshal on the outside and Sacred Croix, the $23 favourite and runner-up in the first two legs of the 4YO Challenge.
Mr Clint was a long last and then had to switch several horses out to the far side on straightening to make an unimpeded run.
Circuit Mission was nicely clear into the long straight but Azzopardi urged Sun Marshal to go after the leader.
He hit the front 350m out. On his outside loomed King Louis and What's New. Mr Clint also made his intentions known.
Brazilian jockey Bernardo Pinheiro got Mr Clint flying in the closing stages but just failed to catch Sun Marshal by a neck.
The Sun Bloodstock Racing Stable-owned winner paid a thumping $120 for a win.
Mr Clint was the fourth least-backed runner at $237 and King Louis showed $54 on the tote.
"What a buzz. I'm nearly lost for words but the race panned out perfectly," said Azzopardi.
"They went hard and I ended up with a good run - one-off the fence - and the horse tracked into the race well up. He was strong right to the line like I thought he would be.
"Look, I just want to come here and do well. I never expected to win my first Group 1 so early in my stint here. I'm over the moon, absolutely lost for words."
Freedman reckoned Sun Marshal, a Group 3 runner-up in Australia as Han Xin when trained by woman trainer Gai Waterhouse, had the form for the Kranji feature races.
The chestnut gelding came into the Derby with two wins - including his last start - two seconds and a third from six starts at Kranji.
"Look, I thought, you know, his form at home was really solid. He ran second in the Grand Prix," said Freedman.
"We got him to today with a month's break but we knew the horse was really fit.
"The question mark was which of the horses was going to handle the ground and he handled it best and Mr Clint second best.
"So, you know, I'm very, very pleased to win. But I would say that, you know, there's a lot of horses who had their chances ruined by the ground and other got their horses improved by the ground."
The Australian Hall of Fame trainer then praised Azzopardi.
"Look, I've got a lot of time for Joe from the time he came here," he said." I told him this would be his Derby horse and he has done a brilliant job."
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