Whistling Win, given a brilliant forward ride by recent Dester Singapore Gold Cup-winning jockey Benny Woodworth, repelled the $16 favourite Nationality with ease at Kranji last night.
The win gave woman trainer Leticia Dragon a welcome change of luck. The daughter of the late trainer Douglas Dragon had an exasperating few weeks with a number of second placings. They included Melting Point, who was relegated from first following a successful protest by Olivier Placais, the rider of the second horse past the post, Little Big Man, for interference in the final 400m on Nov 2.
Melting Point again went down by a whisker to Affleck in his next start last Sunday. Coincidentally, the five-year-old chestnut gelding raced in the same racing colours of Whistling Win. Both horses are owned by Tan Kay Chuan.
Last night, Nationality, who was my headline act, was given a chance to atone for his last-start failure.
The Lee Freedman-trained $16 favourite had worked diligently and, after all, he ruined his chances on Nov 4 with a tardy start and had returned with wounds on his near-fore and near-hind legs.
Although he broke well from the gates in the $80,000 Class 3 Div 2 event over the Polytrack 1,100m, others were quicker to the fore.
Dash led but Woodworth deftly steered Whistling Win up to eyeball him after crossing in beautifully from his wide gate.
Whistling Win popped sightly ahead on settling down and was already two lengths clear at the 600m mark from Dash and Pole Paradise.
Nationality moved up fourth, albeit a bit wide. Filibuster, the $21 second favourite, was next, deeper. Then came last-start winner Soldado, the $22 third favourite.
Whistling Win straightened up with a nice handy lead. Bustled up by Woodworth, the $43 shot kept giving under his light handicap of 52kg. Placais gave chase on Nationality but the bird had flown. Whistling Win was home and hosed by half a length.
Cousteau, the first reserve who secured a berth following the scratching of Elise, was an eye-catching third, flying home from second-last to finish third, just three-quarter lengths away.
The winning time was 1min 05.41sec, only 1.25sec outside Filibuster's record. It was Whistling Win's fourth success from 15 starts.
Woodworth reckoned that Whistling Win was an easy ride and the 52kg handicap was a great contributing factor to the four-year-old chestnut gelding's victory.
"He's a pretty straightforward horse - jump and run and just wait for the straight, and he gives a good kick again," said the Malaysian jockey. "When you get in with a light weight and in front controlling the speed, it's hard for them to catch when your horse still has the power when you press the button."
The night's other $80,000 Class 3 race (Div 1) was also won with front-running tactics after crossing in from the widest berth by the circuit's exciting find Jomo. Trained by Freedman, the $14 second favourite has now achieved a three-from-three record.