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Tan hopes it’s not a flash in the Pan again

After two Polytrack wins, Super Pan Swiftly aims for three-in-a-row against stronger lot

The halcyon days of top-drawer horses like War Affair, Infantry, El Padrino or Speedy Cat filling up trainer Alwin Tan’s boxes are long gone.

Since 2020, the 2016 Singapore champion trainer has seen both quality and quantity plummet at his stables.

Today, the 55-year-old conditioner is left with only 17 horses but, with Singapore racing counting down to its last day on Oct 5, he is not the only one with low occupancy rates.

Despite those last dreary seasons, a few rare gems have somehow managed to jump out of the box.

They are not cut from the same cloth as the aforementioned champions but Revolution, Cash Cove and, more recently, Aniki did help raise Tan’s strike rate.

They may have shown their limitations once tested at a higher level, but they did bring a smile to Tan and his entourage for a while and, more importantly, keep the home fires burning.

The latest to have suddenly hit a purple patch is Super Pan Swiftly.

The gangly chestnut had more or less flown under the radar at his early Kranji efforts but once Tan put him on a Polytrack path, results started to come through.

After two closing fourths on the alternative track in Class 5 company, the All Too Hard three-year-old strung up two wins in a row on the same course and distance (1,100m).

More pointedly, he won in almost carbon-copy style – roll forward from an outside gate and not look back.

Tan said that the racing pattern discovery was totally off the cuff, and is not in any way cast in stone.

Even after Super Pan Swiftly was again dealt a bad card – the worst in 15 (to come down to 12 after the scratchings) – in the $50,000 Class 4 (1,200m) on Polytrack, he said options are still open.

“It was at his second-last start that he first won like that,” said Tan, who races the gelding in his famous light blue and white silks.

“He did run fourth twice before, so he was showing some signs of improvement.

“But we couldn’t really predict how he would go. So the win still came as a bit of a surprise.

“The jockey (Ryan Curatolo) said as there was no pace inside, they were able to go forward from a wide barrier and dictate.

“It was not planned but, since it worked, Ryan did the same at his next start and they went all the way again. The horse actually won very well that day.

“I think that after that first taste of a win, he wanted more. Hopefully, he’s still in that mood on Sunday.

“But he has again drawn a wide barrier. Saifudin Ismail will ride as Ryan cannot ride at 50.5kg, he’s an experienced jockey and will decide what’s best on the day.”

It remains to be seen if Super Pan Swiftly will not be a flash in the pan like Cash Cove or Aniki but, if he can pass muster on May 12, it is onwards and upwards.

“He’s up in class, even if it’s not the strongest Class 4 field I’ve seen. It’s an open race, which gives my horse some chance,” he said.

“I’m also a bit worried about the distance as he’s won both times over 1,100m, but it’s worth a try. He should be able to get another 100m.”

With Super Pan Swiftly’s event slated in the last of the 10-race card, Tan is hoping the wait will be made easier with at least one win from his earlier eight runners.

Two of them are on the quick back-up, the JHI Stable pair of Benbo and Raging Rabbit, a closing second to Very Surprise in a Class 5 mile contest on the Polytrack on May 4.

The US-bred four-year-old by Flatter will try and shed his maiden tag at start No. 17 by going one better in the Class 5 Division 2 race (1,600m), but it is on turf this time.

“I discussed with Raging Rabbit’s owners. They agreed to back him up as he pulled up well, even though it’s now turf,” said Tan.

“We’ll see how he goes. He has maintained his form and, if he runs well, at least it will give us more options in the future.”