Sun Marshal led an all-outsider finish in the $1 million Group 1 Singapore Derby over 1,800m yesterday, ending What's New's brilliant run in the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge.
Second, just a neck away, was last year's Group 1 Singapore Guineas winner Mr Clint. The result gave champion Singapore trainer Lee Freedman a quinella which paid a huge $1,213 for a $2 outlay.
Freedman, in fact, had five runners in the race - with Heliosphere finishing sixth, Circuit Mission eighth and Super Dynasty 13th in the capacity field of 16.
The Ricardo Le Grange-trained King Louis was third, 1¼ lengths behind Mr Clint and a length in front of the Cliff Brown-trained What's New, who was gallant in defeat as the $25 second favourite.
Unlike her wins with the lucky run next to the rail in the first two legs of the 4YO Challenge - the Group 3 Silver Bowl over 1,400m on June 9 and the Group 2 Stewards' Cup over 1,600m on June 30 - What's New had to race one horse off the fence after jumping from Gate 13. She had only three horses behind her.
The only female candidate came home with a good run on the far side and looked a possibility for a fleeting moment. But her earlier effort and, probably the yielding track which also did not suit several contenders, took its toll.
Perth jockey Joseph Azzopardi, who does a lot of morning trackwork for Freedman, certainly deserves the accolades for a gem of a ride. He stayed handy and then timed his run to perfection.
Stablemate Circuit Mission led by two lengths on settling down from Eye Guy. Next, a similar gap away, were Super Dynasty and Magic Wand, followed Sun Marshal on the outside and Sacred Croix, the $23 favourite and runner-up in the first two legs of the 4YO Challenge.
SINGAPORE DERBY 2019
1 Sun Marshal (Win: $120, place: $33)
2 Mr Clint ($56, neck)
3 King Louis ($21, 11/4 lengths)
4 What's New (1 length)
Mr Clint was a long last and then had to switch several horses out to the far side on straightening to make an unimpeded run.
Circuit Mission was nicely clear into the long straight, but Azzopardi urged Sun Marshal to go after the leader. He hit the front 350m out. On his outside loomed King Louis and What's New. Mr Clint made his move. Brazilian jockey Bernardo Pinheiro got Mr Clint flying home but just failed to catch Sun Marshal by a neck.
The winner paid a thumping $120 for a win. Mr Clint was the fourth least-backed runner at $237 and King Louis showed $54 on the tote.
"What a buzz. I'm nearly lost for words, but the race panned out perfectly," said Azzopardi.
"They went hard and I ended up with a good run - one-off the fence - and the horse tracked into the race well up. He was strong right to the line like I thought he would be.
"Look, I just want to come here and do well. I never expected to win my first Group 1 so early in my stint here. I'm over the moon, absolutely lost for words."
Freedman reckoned Sun Marshal, a Group 3 runner-up in Australia as Han Xin when handled by trainer Gai Waterhouse, had the form for Kranji's feature races.
The chestnut gelding came into the race with two wins - including his last start - two seconds and a third from six starts at Kranji.
"Look, I thought, you know, his form at home was really solid. He ran second in the Grand Prix," said Freedman.
"We got him to today with a month's break, but we knew the horse was really fit.
"So, you know, I'm very, very pleased to win. But I would say that, you know, there's a lot of horses who had their chances ruined by the ground and others got their horses improved by the ground."