White Hunter leaves rivals in his tracks

Michael Lee

Trainer James Peters was a relieved young man after White Hunter raced away to a convincing win in the $60,000 National Orchid Garden Stakes, an Open Benchmark 67 race over 1400m on Sunday.

The Briton, who has enjoyed a fantastic start to his career, had not saddled a winner since Blademeister a month ago, with his win counter suddenly stopping at 16.

After a frustrating run of seconds and thirds since, Peters was glad he was finally able to head down to the winner’s box again, thanks to White Hunter ($33), who came off an easy soft run in a small seven-horse field to run them off their feet in the concluding stages. 

From the moment jockey Corey Brown took the Fastnet Rock five-year-old to the front, he was never tested at any stage. Turning for home, Brown still had a lapful under him and once he gave his mount a slight dig in the ribs, what was already a foregone conclusion from a long way out quickly turned into an emphatic 2 ¾ -length win.

Murrayfield (Vlad Duric) was bustled up around the 500m to launch four wide from the point of turn, but with the cheap sectionals White Hunter got away with, it was already clear he would have the task ahead.

He did chip away at the margin to run second, a neck in advance of The Jeuneyman (Danny Beasley) with Casing Royal (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) fourth another neck away. The winning time was 1min 23.71secs for the 1400m on the Short Course.

“It’s a relief to finally get a winner. It’s been a while,” said Peters.

“This horse loves to dictate from the front. When he gets a soft lead, he has that sprint left in him.

“That’s why we decided to step him up from 1200m to 1400m, as it’s slower and they don’t go 100 miles an hour early. He gets taken on in 1200m races.

“At least, the 1400m gives him more of a chance to do his own things in front and he was just too good today.”

Brown concurred on the advantage of an uncontested lead for the Galileo Stable-owned galloper, but having been aboard a few times, he was particularly wowed by Sunday’s sharper finish.

“I couldn’t believe the acceleration he showed in the straight. He’s never done this even after a soft lead before,” said the Australian hoop.

“We put blinkers and winkers on him before, but he was too aggressive. Sometimes, just going back to basics is the way to go.

“No doubt, the headgear helped him concentrate better before but just taking them off completely has helped him big time.

“At the 300m, I couldn’t hear them coming. Normally you can hear all the bashing, but there was none and I could even take a look at the screen.”

White Hunter has now taken his record to three wins at Kranji from 13 starts for stakes earnings in excess of $140,000 for his connections.