Wimbledon leads Duric three-set win

Michael Lee

Classy galloper Wimbledon produced a sizzling all-the-way performance in the $125,000 Kranji Stakes A race over 1200m on Friday, suddenly opening up a few lofty options in the months ahead.

Ridden by jockey Vlad Duric, the China Horse Club-owned sprinter went straight to the lead in the small but select eight-horse field, to make his own luck. With the Shane Baertschiger pair of Faaltless (John Powell) and Lincoln Road (Matthew Kellady) snapping at his heels, the pace was earnest from the get-go.

Such a scenario normally works out well for the backmarkers, but neither Super Winner (Glen Boss) nor favourite Nova Strike (Manoel Nunes), who was a fraction slow out of the gates and had to be bustled up early to recover along the rails, could muster a strong enough acceleration to reel in Wimbledon. 

Vlad Duric rides Wimbledon for dear life as he goes for home towards his first 2017 win.

Vlad Duric rides Wimbledon for dear life as he goes for home towards his first 2017 win.

Duric, last year’s runner-up but who has found the winning post elusive in the new term, got stuck right into his horse with renewed vigour as the shadows of the post seemed to take ages to arrive.

Super Winner could not find extra in spite of Boss’s urgings while Nova Strike kept chipping away, but Wimbledon ($36) was home and hosed as he strode across the line half-a-length clear of Nova Strike with Super Winner third, separated by a similar margin. The winning time was 1min 8.85secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.

With sectionals that read 22 and 24 seconds in the last two furlongs, even Peters looked a little shocked by the Snitzel’s sustained run at both ends of the race.

“I didn’t quite expect him to run such times, but he looked terrific in the yard,” said the Englishman who was at a race-to-race double after Bristol Diamond scored his maiden win earlier.

“He did a really good job tonight considering they ran such fast sectionals. He’s got a sprinter’s ability but looking at his action, he can be a bit shuffly.

“I also think that a bit of rain really took the sting out of the ground. Even in trackwork, when there is a bit of rain in the morning, it does help horses a lot as it’s not like hard concrete and they let down so much better.”

Peters said he would have to work out what is next for the now seven-time winner’s next races, but would not be loath to exploring loftier targets.

“I’ll have a look through the programme, but I guess I could look at the Singapore Sprint Series,” he said.

“I’m not sure about the Merlion Trophy as I think he’s better on turf even if he’s won on Polytrack before.”

The Singapore Sprint Series kicks off with the Group 2 Merlion Trophy (1200m) on March 5, before proceeding to the Group 3 Kranji Sprint (1200m) on March 26 and finally the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) on April 16.

A relieved Duric was delighted he had finally got off the mark after 27 misses. It was actually to be the start of a bumper haul, which certainly brought home the cliché “when it rains, it pours”.

The Australian rider doubled the dose, again in partnership with Peters (for a three-timer for the latter) when Brahma Circus ($53) caused a small surprise in the $60,000 Open Benchmark 67 race over 1200m, overhauling En Civil (Gerald Mosse) to post a three-quarter-length win before he took out the Lucky Last, the $60,000 Class 4 Division 2 race over 1400m with another $53 shot, Supernova for trainer Bruce Marsh’s season opener.

“It’s finally out of the way, and to get three on the one night after such a quiet start, it couldn’t get any better than this,” said Duric who bagged 66 winners last year to finish second nine winners behind Nunes.

“My first winner (Wimbledon) was pretty impressive. I had a good hold of him, but he can hang a little around the corner.

“He can gallop and even though he shifted off the fence a bit, he gave a very good kick in the end.

“He’s a genuine horse. When I trialled him the other day, we took his gear off, but we decided to leave them on on raceday.”

Previously prepared by Peters’ former boss Michael Freedman, Wimbledon has now brought his stakes earnings to a handy amount of around $620,000 for his connections.