Fresh from a two-month break and with the benefit of a trial victory, Master Of Malibu bounced back to the winning list at last night's Polytrack meeting at Kranji.
Ridden by jockey Barend Vorster, the Ricardo Le Grange-trained four-year-old bay Argentine-bred gelding defied the wide draw (No. 8) to lead from start to finish over the 1,200m trip.
Le Grange said his charge came back stronger and fitter with the nice freshen-up, and looked really well in the parade ring.
"His trial last week was really good and he was given a very good positive ride by Barend. He rated him perfectly and the horse responded very well to his riding," added the South African.
Initially vying for favouritism with last-start runner-up Tun O'Reilly, Master Of Malibu was punched late in the betting, because of his good form, to pay $15 for a win.
He thus ended a near one-year drought. His first success was at his debut in an Initiation event over the Polytrack 1,200m on Sept 8 last year. Between his first-up win and last night, he was third twice in nine outings.
One who seldom runs a bad race, Master Of Malibu showed his winning turn was just round the corner by running a good fourth last start on June 15 over the Poly 1,200m.
Knowing his horse could not back-up quickly due to his light frame, Le Grange gave Master Of Malibu a break, which did the bay gelding a world of good. With a splendid trial last week, the Tmen Stable-owned galloper was right on course to the winner's circle again.
Le Grange stepped up the preparation with the jump-out to keep Master Of Malibu on his toes and his charge raised the confidence level by winning with aplomb.
After travelling third, albeit a bit wide, Master Of Malibu closed in from the final 200m and careered away to post a one-length win. It was all systems go.
Last night, Master Of Malibu flew the gates and crossed in to be in front by over a length in the $45,000 Class 4 Non Premier event.
Success Come True, the $141 outsider who jumped from barrier 2, surged up and got up to be half a length on the outside of the leader. Host The Nation was next on Success Come True's outside.
The pace was just moderate, 24.65sec for the first 400m. The moment he turned into the straight, Master Of Malibu stole a nice breakaway. He increased his lead to about two lengths with 200m left to run under Vorster's forceful riding.
Success Come True and Host The Nation chased hard but fell flat trying. It was left to $24 third favourite Prince Alexander to give chase after moving up from midfield but to no avail. Master Of Malibu held on resolutely to win by ¾ lengths in 1min 12.22sec.
Although he was the smallest horse at 455kg in the 11-horse field, Master of Malibu carried the heaviest weight at 57kg, prompting racecaller Nicholas Child to say: "He's not the biggest but, gee, he's got a big heart."
Indeed, he has.
Friday's South Africa results
1st 3 Popinjay ($54-$21)
2nd 14 Hurricane Sasha ($50)
3rd 10 Talk To Me ($29)
4th 7 Press Release
Place Forecast (3-14) $394, (3-10) $52, (10-14) $131
Tierce No winner ($1,402 jackpot carried forward to next race)
Quartet No winner ($154 carried forward)
Scratchings: 5 Desert Wanderer, 13 Cape Imperial, 16 Nifty Fifty
1st 3 Flight Captain ($29-$7)
2nd 4 Story Of My Life ($9)
3rd 1 Seattle Flame ($6)
4th 8 For Luck Sake
Place Forecast (3-4) $9, (1-3) $5, (1-4) $6
Tierce $151 Trio $18
Scratching: 6 African Victory
1st 2 Counting Stars ($18-$7)
2nd 15 Cold Front ($36)
3rd 14 Aviemore ($15)
4th 13 Nauticus
Place Forecast (2-15) $34, (2-14) $17, (14-15) $69
Tierce No winner ($1,848 carried forward)
Trio $393 Quartet No winner ($194 carried forward)
Scratching: 11 Tashunca
1st 1 Ingabangabonga ($13-$9)
2nd 3 Fifth Of Ml ($11)
3rd 2 Vesper ($10)
4th 6 Mocha To Go
Forecast $28 Place Forecast (1-3) $6, (1-2) $8, (2-3) $21
Tierce $219 Trio $43
1st 8 Plano ($51-$12)
2nd 2 Gimme The Stars ($17)
3rd 6 Western Wu ($7)
4th 7 Cape Rebel
Place Forecast (2-8) $53, (6-8) $10, (2-6) $14
Tierce $707 Trio $63
Quartet No winner ($220 carried forward)
Scratchings: 3 Laws Of Succession, 5 My World
1st 6 Hidden Thought ($102-$29)
2nd 1 Cloud Atlas ($17)
3rd 5 Reine Tonnerre ($11)
4th 10 Libra
Forecast $123 Place Forecast (1-6) $33, (5-6) $37, (1-5) $37
Tierce $3,302 Trio $290
Quartet No winner ($420 carried forward)
1st 7 The Highway Man ($40-$12)
2nd 4 League Game ($7)
3rd 1 Bollemakiesie ($22)
4th 6 El Cheepo
Place Forecast (4-7) $14, (1-7) $34, (1-4) $22
Quartet No winner ($646 jackpot carried forward to next SA meeting)
Scratching: 5 Teutonic Knight
Yesterday's Kranji trackwork
GALLOPS BY TOMORROW'S KRANJI RUNNERS
Anghiari H 40.8
Rafaello H (N Juglall) 43 Royal Ruler H (B Vorster) 40.9.
Splinter H 44.1.