Two Stars align for trainer, jockey, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Two Stars align for trainer, jockey

Star Victory, Star Express keep up good start to Peters’ season, launch Woodworth

James Peters may not have a stable of stars, but it has not stopped the British trainer from enjoying a great start to the Singapore season.

A double from two PSM Stable runners in Class 5 events at the last Kranji meeting on Feb 17 has not only bumped his 2024 score up to six winners within seven weeks, but also propelled him to fifth on the log.

It is not a bad result for someone who trains mostly Class 4 and 5 horses.

Even when former Singapore Gold Cup winner Big Hearted raised the stable’s median ratings upon his transfer from Michael Clements in May, most dismissed the injury-plagued seven-year-old as a has-been.

But Peters has already patched him up for a Class 2 win on Jan 20.

While Star Express and Star Victory are not in the same league, they also needed a good dose of patience, especially the latter.

Both seldom win – one apiece – with Star Victory (20 starts) having seen the starter a little more often than Star Express (15 starts).

Aided by brilliant rides from PSM’s go-to rider these days, Benny Woodworth, the two Stars have found the line for the second time on the same day.

“Star Victory has been a bit disappointing, but he was in such a weak race today,” said Peters.

“I discussed with Benny and we agreed there’d be no pace on paper, and we would ride him more positive. It worked for him.”

Peters was not exactly bucking the trend for the noted backmarker.

At his two first starts, the strapping Vancouver five-year-old showed toe out of the gates and led. He duly won second-up.

For various reasons – wide gate, faster rivals, circumstances – he took a drop for most of his next 18 starts until the last one.

Punched forward from a middle gate on Feb 17, the $32 chance had Tantheman (Marc Lerner) serving it up to him on his outside for most of the way. But, once he shook him off upon straightening, the race was put to bed in a jiffy.

Schneider (Bruno Queiroz) and Boss Heng Heng (Amirul Ismadi) closed in late, but the bird had flown. They ran second and third respectively, more than four lengths away.

Star Victory wrapped up the $30,000 Class 5 Division 2 race (1,400m) on the short course in 1min 23.4sec.

With the lesser of the two PSM chances – a third, Star North, was scratched from the last race – home, Peters’ and connections’ confidence grew with Star Express three races later.

The $17 shot made no mistake, even if Laksana (Vlad Duric) made it look interesting when he gave him the slip at the top of the straight.

But, well ridden by Woodworth, the Sebring four-year-old chipped away at the margin to put his neck down where it mattered.

“Star Express has been consistent. He ran second at his last two starts,” said Peters.

“Today he was going over 2,000m, which suits him as his only previous win was over that distance.

“He also had a good barrier (No. 1) while he was drawn wide at his last start and was caught wide throughout.

“Today, he had everything go his way, and he did no work where he was (fourth).

“I was confident he’d run well, but I was a bit worried when Vlad got away at the top of the straight.

“He had some ground to make up, but he’s a good stayer and it was a good ride by Benny.”

The popular Malaysian jockey was also very pleased the two Stars had aligned.

Not only the riding double had ended a two-month drought since Free And Happy on Dec 17, Star Victory was also his first hurrah for the owner.

“I’d like to thank the owner who has been very patient with me,” he said.

“I’ve been riding his horses for a while now, but it was my first time winning for him.

“I was supposed to ride Star North when he won last year (Dec 9), but my daughter Natalie got married that day.

“The last time he won, he carried a light weight (49.5kg), and last Saturday, he was scratched.”