Night Flight lands The Austcham Cup

Michael Lee

English trainer James Peters is showing no signs of letting up after he won the highlight of Friday’s night races, the $80,000 The Austcham Cup, a Kranji Stakes C race over 1600m with outsider Night Flight.

Since the first-year trainer officially commenced operations on April 1, he has certainly been enjoying a super run, which culminated with a four-timer on September 9. On that night, it was the same Night Flight who brought the finishing touch to the bumper haul, right in the last race, and the English-bred by Naaqoos has now added win No 22 for his young handler.

Peters said the Hippocrates Stable-owned gelding showed promise when he got on the scoresheet at only his third run when then still under his former boss Michael Freedman’s care, but a few niggling issues had unfortunately set him back thereafter. 

Judging from the way he came off the rails after scraping paint in midfield for most of the way to race going away once he found the gap at the 300m, there was no better testimony to the good job done by Peters and his staff to get on top of his problems.

“This horse has a nice turn of foot and he keeps improving,” he said.

“He had a setback a couple of months ago, but my guys have done a great job to bring him back to his best.

“He’s a horse who will get better over more ground, but for now, I’ll just take him through his grades.

“Derreck seems to get along very well with him. He gave him a perfect ride.”

David jumped off saying that the $48 shot was always going to put paid to his rivals once he came off his economical run and saw daylight inside the last 1 ½ furlongs.

Favourite Murrayfield (Vlad Duric) looked to be travelling the best when leader The Jeuneyman (Danny Beasley) caved in at the top of the straight, but as David switched Night Flight, who had all along tracked up Murrayfield, across heels in search of galloping room down the middle part of the track, it was a foregone conclusion which way the tide was turning.

Night Flight left his rivals stranded as he darted through for a solid 1 ½-length win from Murrayfield with Robin Hood, who gave jockey Olivier Placais a torrid time the whole length of the straight with his tendency to hang out badly, but still plugged on gamely for third spot another 1 ¼ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 36.8secs for the 1600m on the Long Course.

“I had him in a lovely spot and he quickened off the bend very well. He was hanging out a bit before the bend but he put his mind on the job when it mattered,” said David.

“He switched off very well for me on the rails, but once he took off, he was too good for them.

“He’s a progressive type of horse. I’ve ridden him three times now and I’ve won twice on him.

“He’s done everything right and I expect some nice things to come from him in the future. Well done to James and the owner Dr Tan (Kai Chah) and I can’t thank them enough for their support.”

Peters saddled another last-start winner in the race, Shanghai Bund ($63), but said not to read too much into his moderate ninth, around four-and-a-half lengths off the winner Night Flight.

Ridden by Sigrid Carr, who is still chasing her first Singapore winner and is left with only one Kranji race meeting on Sunday, Shanghai Bund settled at the rear, but hardly pinched any margin off the leading section throughout the race.

“From that barrier (11), he had to drop back, but they didn’t go hard and it was always going to be hard for him to make ground,” said Peters.

“You can put a line through that run. He’ll be a better chance when he draws a better barrier.”

As for Night Flight, that third win combined with his two thirds have edged his prizemoney over the $100,000 mark for Dr Tan.