Champion trainer Mark Walker saddled the forecast in the $45,000 Victoria Peak Stakes, a Class 4 Non Premier race over 1400m when $214 longshot Alamosa Express (NZ) (Alamosa) just outlasted his better-fancied stablemate Lim’s Reform on Sunday.
It may not have been the order the Kiwi handler or most punters had expected, but winners are grinners, as they say.
Walker was for one glad a horse he had been keen to see turn the corner finally come through - and for winning apprentice jockey Mohd Firdaus who was riding his first winner for him after nearly one year under his tutelage.
The Malaysian rider was one of the most promising apprentice jockeys to have crossed the Causeway to Kranji three or four years ago, but after a stellar start when he even won a Group race with In Fact, he slowly slipped into oblivion.
Firdaus even nearly gave the game away, heading back to Johor Bahru to help his brother in his workshop, only to slip back into his breeches earlier this year. He was taken in by Walker, joining apprentice jockeys Zawari Razali, Ng Choon Kiat and Hanafi Noorman on the payroll.
“MM is a lovely young man to have at the stable. He is on time every day and works hard,” said Walker.
“He doesn’t get as many rides, but he makes the most of what he gets. He rode this horse very well today.
“We thought there would not be much speed in the race, and I told MM to roll forward if he can.
“They tried to run him down from all over the place, but he held on. Lim’s Reform ran super, but that’s just racing.
“Alamosa Express got left alone, he carried only 49kgs and he went all the way. It took a while for him to acclimatise, but I think he might be right from now on.”
Firdaus said he was not sure if he would pull it off when he punched the Alamosa five-year-old out to increase their lead to a commanding three-length break in the straight, but was glad he hung in there as wins had been hard to come by this year.
Alamosa Express was bringing up his fourth win for the year, the first since Snip on July 22, and more significantly, his first winner for his new boss as his apprentice jockey. They combined successfully before when Firdaus was then indentured to ex-Kranji trainer Patrick Shaw with Fine Choice, Lady Iffraaj and Kam’s Comet.
“I’m very happy to ride a winner after such a long time,” said Firdaus.
“The plan was to sit second or third, but as nobody wanted to lead, I just let him go forward.
“At the 500m, I could feel he still had a lot of petrol left in the tank, but I thought I went too fast in front when I let him go.
“I didn’t feel anything coming up in the last strides, I just pushed him out to the line and I’m glad the winning post came on time.”
Alamosa Express and Lim’s Reform quinellaed with a head separating them. King’s Speech (Grant van Niekerk) also closed in late to settle for third place another short head away. The winning time was 1min 22.71secs for the 1400m on the Short Course. -STC