Superlative performance at big odds, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Superlative performance at big odds

3YO Kiwi-bred's $210 victory surprises even trainer Cliff Brown and jockey Juan Paul van der Merwe

A beautiful ground-saving ride from the inner-most barrier saw Superlative upsetting the applecart in Sunday's $75,000 Restricted Maiden (2) event.

Also fresh from a five-month break, the Cliff Brown-trained and Gold Stable-owned three-year-old New Zealand-bred was given a top ride by jockey Juan Paul van der Merwe to score by half a length from War Frontier in the 1,200m race on turf.

The next big surprise was his win payout - a thumping $210 for his brave supporters.

"Winner are grinners" was probably the best way to sum up Brown's surprise at seeing Superlative's upset victory.

"It's a big surprise. I thought he needed further than that, but it's racing and things like that happens," said the Australian handler, who prepares the bulk of the Yongs' Gold Stable of horses at Kranji.

"He's a big strong horse, but he's been improving. We'll take it."

Van der Merwe, who has slowly turned into the go-to-man for Brown's lowly handicapped runners since his win on Lonhro Gold last October, was just as stunned by the result.

"I'm very surprised with the win. He's been a handful at home," said the South African lightweight jockey.

"I took him to the barrier trials and he was very nervous and scared at everything, but the ability is there.

"Hopefully, he can calm down. Well done to Cliff."

Superlative was not quite how one could describe the relative newcomer in either his work on the training tracks or inconspicuous debut last August.

He finished eighth behind Mr Malek after going with the pace.

But the output at his second race certainly was closer to what his name suggests.

The bay/brown son of 2013 Australian Guineas winner Ferlax was as expected given a wide berth on Sunday, but a snug ground-saving run on the rails, courtesy of barrier No. 1, was key to the shock win.

From the top of the straight to the 200m mark, the top prize was vied for by at least five chances, including race-leader The Brotherhood (Benny Woodworth), War Frontier (S John), Declare War (Vlad Duric), Stormy View (T Krisna) and Superlative.

But, under van der Merwe's determined handling, Superlative crept up in between runners to poke his head in front 100m out before edging past War Frontier for the victory.

The winning time was 1min 10.54sec for the 1,200m on the Short Course B.

Bought as an unraced galloper in New Zealand, where he was known as Rolledoats, Superlative has earned his oats with a first pay cheque worth about $40,000 for Gold Stable.