By Michael Lee – Trainer Ricardo Le Grange had more than just one good reason to smile at the winner’s circle after debutant Field Marshal got up in a close finish on Sunday.
Obviously, to see a raw two-year-old, the ultimate unknown quantity – even if the son of new Aquis stallion Sweet Orange (former smart Hong Kong middle-distance performer) did show some promising signs at his barrier trials – go out there and win first-up was the primary source of satisfaction.
But the pulsating win earned only after the judge called for the photo was also a great occasion for the South African handler to wish his mother a happy birthday.
Not to mention, Le Grange was just as chuffed for the way his apprentice jockey Krina Thangamani handled the ride with superb poise and tactical nous, coaxing the wayward chestnut to the line to snatch the win by the barest of margins in a blanket finish.
Field Marshal ($13) finished locked together with Kuda Bagus (Benny Woodworth) in the middle and Qiji Acheeva (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) on the inside rails, spilt by a nose between them.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to wish my mama a happy birthday. It’s her birthday today itself,” said Le Grange.
“I’d also like to praise the great work done by the Singapore Turf Club riding coach Matthew Pumpa. He’s really improved not only Krisna’s riding, but all the other apprentices.
“I told Krisna to just ride the horse where he is comfortable and where he lands, as we don’t know the horse. Just sit off him as I wanted to teach him earlier days to not tear away. Krisna did exactly as I told him.
“And of course, a big thank you to the guys from Middle Kingdom, they will have a lot of fun with this horse.
“He is still green as grass but he has plenty of upside. He won on sheer guts and ability today.”
Allowed to settle in midfield, Field Marshal started to make inroads from the top of the straight, but was zigging when he should have zagged. Krisna did not panic and was able instead to extract the best out of Field Marshal and get his nose down when it mattered.
The winning time was 1min 10.95secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.