Trainer Jason Ong’s lucky streak continues
Sunday's treble has taken the Singaporean to joint-fifth in the trainers' premiership table
With his Sunday treble, trainer Jason Ong has inched closer to No. 3 in the trainers' premiership table.
With 20 winners, the 33-year-old Singaporean has leapt from 11th to joint-fifth with Japanese trainer Hideyuki Takaoka.
The duo are just three winners behind Australian Daniel Meagher and one behind New Zealander Stephen Gray. The two expatriate trainers are in third and fourth positions respectively.
Three-time champion Mark Walker saddled Maximillian to level up with long-time leader and reigning champion Michael Clements on 49 winners.
But Walker gets the top berth on countback for seconds. The New Zealander has 52, twice that of the Zimbabwe-born naturalised Singaporean's.
It is a great achievement by Ong, considering that this is only his third season, after taking over from his retired Kiwi mentor Bruce Marsh.
Sunday's three-timer with Special Ops, Hosayliao and Universal Empire was the second in Ong's career. His first was with Try Mak Mak, Miss Michelle and Kiwi Kid on Oct 31 last year. He saddled five doubles this year.
"Yes, it was a very good day for all connections. There are still three months to go, hopefully, it stays that way," said Ong, on his winning streak.
Special Ops' comeback victory in the $50,000 Class 4 Division 2 race over the Poly 1,200m brought plenty of cheers.
Ong had harboured thoughts of last month's Group 1 Singapore Derby over 1,800m but the bay Australian-bred did not progress to make the cut.
Although a beaten favourite in his last three starts, punters still had faith in the horse.
He was too good for Class 4 and they sent him off as the $19 favourite. He did not disappoint this time, thanks to a top ride by jockey Danny Beasley.
Although he dropped to further back than midfield, the Australian was unperturbed. He knew he was on the best horse. He made his move in the straight and soon gobbled up his rivals. He won by two lengths in a smart 1min 10.72sec.
For good measure, Ong's much-improved back-to-back winner King Zoustar ran third.
It was Special Ops' third win in 16 starts. He also has five seconds and two thirds, and has amassed about $150,000 for his connections.
"I was really happy with Special Ops leading into the race, especially after he ran a strong 1,100m at his last start," said Ong.
"Credit to Danny Beasley, who has given me a lot of feedback that helped me train this horse better. For example, he told me he's ready to go and doesn't need too much work.
"Danny rode him beautifully. The horse learned from his last start over 1,100m, and was a lot closer to the speed this time.
"When he saw daylight, he put the race away nicely."
Despite being a last-start winner over the course and distance, Hosayliao was surprisingly ignored in the betting.
Jockey Zyrul Nor Azman brought the $78 shot up from midfield to go after the leaders at the top of the straight. He then fended off a strong surge by the fancied Resurgence by a neck in 1min 39.06sec for the Poly 1,600m in Class 5 Division 1.
"I think the light weight (51kg) helped him, as it wasn't an easy field to beat. Zy rode him very well," said Ong.
It was Hosayliao's third success from 45 starts. Incidentally, the six-year-old was Ong's first runner, first winner when he made his training debut on Sept 20, 2019. Then, the horse was called Sothistheone.
Ong ended his day on a high with Universal Empire. The $31 chance capitalised on his inside draw and the addition of blinkers to take the $50,000 Class 4 Div 21 event over the Poly 1,200m in a neck-neck finish, with jockey Koh Teck Huat astride.
It was the five-year-old's fourth victory in 15 starts.