The connections of Natural Impulse made another coup at Kranji last night, when their six-year-old Australian-bred came in for some late betting and obliged again.
Just like his last win seven starts back on Jan 26, the smart money poured in late, although it was not as huge. In a way, it was juicier, dropping from $40 with three minutes to go to start at $24 for a win. The last time, the support came by the lorry loads in the final minute to make him the $10 favourite.
Trained by Daniel Meagher, Natural Impulse certainly goes well for Malaysian jockey Saifudin Ismail, who has an affinity with the chestnut gelding. Many other riders, including Michael Rodd and Corey Brown, had ridden Natural Impulse before but only Saifudin could win on the horse. The combination have now succeeded six times.
Saifudin got Natural Impulse to jump swiftly and cross in from the widest barrier in the nine-horse field in the $45,000 Class 4 Non Premier event over the Polytrack 1,000m to dispute the lead with the $14 favourite Lonhro Gold and $16 second favourite King Of War .
He then took the lead on settling down, showing the way by almost two lengths and dropping anchor to save up for the run home. Dragon Gold pulled up to be a length behind at the 600m mark, followed closely by King Of War and Lonhro Gold.
Natural Impulse straightened up nicely but was quickly tackled by Lonhro Gold, who was given a ground-saving run by champion jockey Vlad Duric. On the outside, jockey Olivier Placais made a determined bid on King Of War.
Both Duric and Placais got near but could not get their mounts to overtake the stubborn leader, who held on gallantly to beat Lonhro Gold by a head. King Of War weakened to finish third, ¾ lengths behind.
Trainer Meagher's decision to perk up Natural Impulse with the addition of blinkers paid dividends.
"Today, the boss put the blinkers on, you know, and it sharpened him up a little bit at the jump," said Saifudin.
"So he jumped fast and got to the front easily. So I tried to slow him down a little bit but he overraced a little bit.
"Come to the 600m, he was more settled. Come to the 400m, I just clicked him and he kicked away. Then I knew it would be very hard for them to get past him. I knew somebody was coming on the inside but my horse just maintained all the way."
Meagher lauded Saifudin's growing confidence and amazing run with Natural Impulse.
"He's a terrific guy and a very loyal man. I'm so happy with us as a team," said the Australian. "All my team, we're a close-knit unit, and we're getting good results, so very happy."
Natural Impulse was Meagher's 29th win for the season, just one behind premiership leader Shane Baertschiger.
Friday's South Africa results
1st 2 Gimme Crystals ($9-$5.10)
2nd 3 Klever Kathy ($5.10)
3rd 6 Vertical ($7)
4th 5 Seattle Mermaid
Place Forecast (2-3) $2.50, (2-6) $4, (3-6) $4
1st 5 El Cheepo ($106-$12)
2nd 2 Born A Bully ($6)
3rd 7 Voices Of Light ($11)
4th 6 Tundra
Place Forecast (2-5) $16, (5-7) $41, (2-7) $13
Tierce $999 Trio $132
Quartet No winner ($494 jackpot carried forward to next race)
1st 1 Silver Spur ($28-$9)
2nd 9 Royal Fort ($6)
3rd 3 Pocket Rocket ($46)
4th 7 Generous Guy
Place Forecast (1-9) $5, (1-3) $69, (3-9) $24
Quartet No winner ($1,052 carried forward)
Scratching: 6 Bhowani Junction
1st 1 Bikini Model ($18-$8)
2nd 6 Wahi ($13)
3rd 2 Honey's Legacy ($9)
4th 13 Seattle Empress
Place Forecast (1-6) $15, (1-2) $8, (2-6) $12
Quartet ($1,816 carried forward)
Scratching: 5 Kounia Bella
1st 8 The Gown ($15-$8)
2nd 4 Mahir ($7)
3rd 9 Ingabangabonga ($8)
4th 5 Conquering King
Place Forecast (4-8) $7, (8-9) $6, (4-9) $10
Tierce $156 Trio $45
Scratching: 3 Chanone's Theory
1st 3 Plano ($22-$8)
2nd 4 Frikkie ($6)
3rd 5 Chappaquiddick ($21)
4th 7 Zanadu
Place Forecast (3-4) $4, (3-5) $19, (4-5) $16
Tierce $206 Trio $54
Quartet No winner ($684 carried forward)
1st 4 Soviet Cosmonaut ($42-$16)
2nd 3 Story Of My Life ($11)
3rd 8 Paper Town ($12)
4th 1 Breakfast Club
Place Forecast (3-4) $22, (4-8) $23, (3-8) $17
Tierce $1,818 Trio $91
Quartet No winner ($1,224 carried forward)
1st 10 Reine Tonnerre ($63-$20)
2nd 4 Excellent ($32)
3rd 13 Maverick Girl ($13)
4th 12 Anglet
Place Forecast (4-10) $76, (10-13) $31, (4-13) $186
Tierce No winner ($2,224 carried forward to Saturday's S.A. meeting) Trio No winner ($2,970 carried forward to Saturday's S.A. meeting) Quartet No winner ($1,600 carried forward to Saturday's S.A. meeting)