Tom Cat far too good

Tom Cat making a dream debut with Singapore Derby-winning jockey Joseph Azzopardi astride in Race 3 at Kranji last night.
Tom Cat making a dream debut with Singapore Derby-winning jockey Joseph Azzopardi astride in Race 3 at Kranji last night.ST PHOTO: SALWA SUANDI

Freedman-trained newcomer bolts home by 3 1/2 lengths with Azzopardi atop

Newcomer Tom Cat brought his trial-winning form to the Kranji races last night, scoring in fantastic fashion with his brilliant speed.

A little keen early, the Lee Freedman-trained three-year-old New Zealand-bred then settled nicely for jockey Joseph Azzopardi.

When asked in the straight, the chestnut gelding produced great acceleration in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden event over the Polytrack 1,100m.

At the winning post, he left runner-up Fountain Of Fame, a reserve who secured a berth following the scratching of Eunos Ave Three, trailing by 31/2 lengths.

"They are all chasing in vain...and he is going to bolt in on his debut. Tom Cat is far too good for them," blared racecaller Nicholas Child.

Indeed, it was an impressive victory by the Kajorn Petch Racing No. 5 Stable-owned galloper. More wins should be in store.

Opening as the favourite, Tom Cat was knocked down to be the $18 second choice when the last-minute money came for the Jason Lim-trained King's Landing, who went off at $16.

Unlike his name suggests, Speed Racer was the last to get going when the race got under way.

Tom Cat, with Azzopardi wearing the colours of 2017 Singapore Horse of the Year Infantry, charged up from Gate 7 to be a length clear of Qiji Star on settling down.

Then came King's Landing and Fountain Of Fame, about two lengths away.

Qiji Star got up on the outside of Tom Cat at the halfway mark but Tom Cat quickly kicked again.

He straightened by over a length in front and soon went further and further ahead. It was all over bar the shouting.

"He's a hard-and-tough type of horse. He wants to run in a bit, so we thought we would keep it simple today - keep him out of trouble," said Azzopardi, who has five rides in his native Perth today.

"It took him a bit for him to come back to me but he did. He came back and got a bit of a breather, and then he was nice and strong to the line."

Freedman said Tom Cat is the "racy type" who has shown a lot of speed, which he thought would be wise to utilise last night.

"I said to Joe he's drawn a bit awkward but I just said use his speed and, you know, on the Poly at night, if you can get to the front and not have to work too hard, it's pretty good," said the reigning Singapore champion trainer.

"He's been in work a while, had two or three preps since he's been gelded, so it was good. It's great."

A race after Tom Cat's victory, the Steven Burridge-trained Dazzle Gold landed his hat-trick with jockey Michael Rodd astride in the $50,000 Class 4 event over the Poly 1,800m.

It was the third step-up in distance for the horse, having won his first two races over 1,600m and 1,700m, also on the Poly with leading apprentice jockey WH Kok aboard.

"This horse is just going through his grades. How far he can go is hard to say. I think he'll get 2,000m. He's sound, that's the biggest thing," said Burridge, who also took Race 2 with Lim's Ray in the Open Maiden-1 event over 1,200m.

Rodd, who was impressed with his mount's staying power, said: "He loves the Poly, hope he loves the grass as well."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2019, with the headline 'Tom Cat far too good'. Print Edition | Subscribe