Duo oblige first-up

US-breds Winning Hobby, Siam MP romp home in the two Restricted Maiden races

Although rated as only 90 per cent fit by his trainer, CT Kuah, newcomer Winning Hobby (No. 14) made a dream debut with a 21/4-length victory over Super Smart in Race 2 at Kranji last night.
Although rated as only 90 per cent fit by his trainer, CT Kuah, newcomer Winning Hobby (No. 14) made a dream debut with a 21/4-length victory over Super Smart in Race 2 at Kranji last night.ST PHOTO: SALWA SUANDI

Just last Tuesday week, Siam MP and Winning Hobby caught the eye by finishing first and second respectively in a barrier trial at Kranji.

The two American-bred newcomers were obviously the horses to follow. With luck, they found themselves in different races in the two $75,000 Restricted Maiden events over 1,200m on turf and both romped home in style with identical No. 14 saddle-cloth number.

Being three-year-old Northern Hemisphere-bred horses, the pair carried 3.5kg lighter than their Southern Hemisphere equine counterparts, which possibly contributed partly to their successes.

The first to strike was Winning Hobby, who cost only US$12,000 (S$16,000) as a yearling, while Siam MP was a US$50,000 purchase as a two-year-old.

Trained by C.T. Kuah and ridden by multiple-champion Malaysian jockey Azhar Ismail, Winning Hobby sat handily in fourth spot, as debut runner-up Super Smart led.

Azhar drove Winning Hobby up turning for home and got the measure of the leader in the final 200m to win comfortably by 21/4 lengths in a smart 1min 10.32sec. He paid $22 as the second favourite.

Both Kuah and Azhar reckoned that Winning Hobby was still green and therefore has plenty of room for improvement.

"He's a nice horse. He was only 90 (per cent). He will improve with racing. I think he has a lot of ability and I think he will be better over 1,400m," said Kuah.

The Michael Clements-trained Siam MP lined up two races later in last night's fourth event and went off as the $10 favourite. It was rightly so, with Winning Hobby having franked the trial form.

Siam MP played up a bit at the parade ring and was the last horse to go out to the barrier. But he was the first to come home in a race that turned out to be a two-horse affair.

Siam MP disputed the lead with the Ricardo Le Grange-trained $20 second favourite Toosbies, who held a slim advantage from the bend. For a moment in the straight, Siam MP's supporters must have been biting their fingers as the horse was one-paced.

But once jockey Glen Boss said "go" at the 300m mark, his mount woke up from his slumber to lengthen stylishly. Like Winning Hobby, the bay gelding also won by 21/4 lengths but his winning time was slower, 1:11.21.

Clements was pleased that stablemates The Iceman, also a newbie, and Magnum Force, ran well to finish third and fourth respectively.

The lanky trainer said Siam MP was pretty full of himself over the last three to four weeks with the work he has had. He was not unduly worried with his pre-race "playful" and " wild" manners.

"I don't think he's being nasty. He's just feeling great and wants to have a bit of a play. But, at times, this can be a bit dangerous," said the Zimbabwean-born trainer. "But I think with racing and more work, he's going to settle down."

Clements felt the wide barrier was not much of a problem as he knew his charge possesses speed. But he admitted he had some anxious moments in the straight.

"At the 300m mark, it looked like he wasn't finding. But, you know, Glen was patient and got to work on him and he responded very well. Look, what he has shown us, he looks like a smart horse," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2019, with the headline 'Duo oblige first-up'. Subscribe