Eastiger mauls his rivals

The Lee Freedman-trained Eastiger making all the running in Race 2 at Kranji last night.
The Lee Freedman-trained Eastiger making all the running in Race 2 at Kranji last night.ST PHOTO: SALWA SUANDI

Duric steers Freedman-trained 3YO to easy all-the-way win from gate 1 on short course

Gate 1, short course and a leading jockey aboard.

These were the right ingredients which led Eastiger to making every post a winning one in what was surprisingly the richest race at Kranji last night, when the field consisted of only relatively new and new three-year-olds.

With $85,000 in stakes, the Restricted Terms event over 1,200m became the richest in the card of eight on a night devoid of higher-class races. The $10,000 hike was the result of the Singapore Turf Club's stakes adjustment to encourage owners to invest more in young quality horses to raise the standard of racing.

The race was even $5,000 richer than the main race of the night - for Class 3 horses over 1,400m in Race 6, won by the Leticia Dragon-trained $19 joint favourite Melting Point (Alan Munro astride).

Australian Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman was naturally grinning from ear to ear for winning a big cheque for Eastiger's owners, the Thai-owned King Power Stable, which also raced last Sunday's winner and Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge fore-runner Augustano.

Reigning champion Vlad Duric jumped Eastiger out in a flash from the inner-most barrier last night and quickly secured a nice and cosy lead on the shortest route home.

At the halfway mark, his mount, a $32 chance, was slightly over a length ahead of Workaholic and Green Missile. Right behind and a bit wide was trial-winning newcomer and $12 favourite Wecando.

Duric slipped some rein to Eastiger at the top of the straight and his mount lengthened beautifully and the race was as good as over, especially on the short course with a shorter run to the winning post.

Jockey Glen Boss made a desperate bid on Wecando but there was no catching Eastiger, who went on to win by two lengths in a relatively good time of 1min 10.45sec.

The Saimee Jumaat-trained $17 second favourite Fusion Power was an eye-catching third, powering home to finish one-and-a-half lengths behind Wecando. He is a horse to watch.

Eastiger was initially trained by Cliff Brown, who saddled the Australian-bred four times for a third placing with a front-running effort, before Freedman took over.

At his first start for Freedman, Eastiger ran in midfield and wide with apprentice jockey R Iskandar astride before finishing a six-and-a-half-length sixth to the Michael Clements-trained promising debut runner Quarter Back.

Freedman said Eastiger ran well for him first-up on Feb 23 although unplaced and it was the plan to lead last night.

"An apprentice rode him first-up, he had a bad draw and he had a horror run. I thought he ran really well and he trained on good," said the five-time Melbourne Cup-winning trainer.

"Second-up, he was fitter and I think he won well. I think that's the way to ride him going forward. He's certainly got a lot of natural speed."

Duric reckoned the easy lead sealed the deal.

"We were able to enjoy a cheap lead. He was a fit horse and he duly won," he said, of his 18th winner of the season. "The way the race panned out suited him. We had full control of the race from the get-go and he was just too good."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2018, with the headline 'Eastiger mauls his rivals'. Print Edition | Subscribe