South African trainer Ricardo Le Grange’s high opinion of Field Marshal was given another boost following a second win from as many starts on Friday night.
The New Zealand-bred three-year-old by Sweet Orange made a thrilling winning debut under Le Grange’s apprentice jockey Krisna Thangamani, getting up by a nose in a Restricted Maiden race over 1200m on turf on July 28, carrying only 50kgs.
Le Grange raised the ante by stepping up the Middle Kingdom Stable-owned galloper in the $75,000 Novice race over 1200m, this time around on Polytrack.
Field Marshal (Ben Thompson) makes light of some interference to come through in style.
The switch in surface was not the biggest worry. He was going to cross swords with other impressive debut winners like Diamond Ring and Coming Through while last week’s winner Lord Of Light and last-start winner The Nutter were nothing to sneeze at either.
The 51.5kgs handicap was a big shot in the arm, though, and an ounce of luck in the running went a long way towards Field Marshal laying down the law for a second time.
Well ridden into a rails-hugging position by lightweight jockey Ben Thompson, Field Marshal ($21) was always well poised in a striking decision, around three lengths off leader and favourite Diamond Ring (Daniel Moor).
At the top of the straight, Thompson, however, elected to peel his mount out when he could have sweated for a rails gap, but bumped into Coming Through (Alysha Collett) at the 300m as he came out.
For a horse with so little exposure to racing, such impeded runs could have snuffed his lights out, but he maintained his composure and a strong gallop to gain the upperhand on the top pick, who even lost second place to Angel’s Choice (Yusoff Fadzli) by a head.
The winning margin was half-a-length and the winning time was 1min 11.92secs for the 1200m on the Polytrack.
“I once made a statement that he was a smart horse from the moment he came to us,” said Le Grange.
“He showed a lots of guts and a lot of determination even if this is probably not the right trip for him. A Novice race is always quite competitive, and he also had a bumping match.
“I’m not good enough to buy these good horses. It’s Jayven See (of Middle Kingdom Stable) who bought him at a sale. I’m very happy with that win.”
Thompson was on the same page in his appraisal of Field Marshal’s potential, but did have some uneasy moments in transit.
“Diamond Ring was laying out, and I was not sure if the gap would come through. I thought Daniel would roll back in,” said the Australian rider.
“I stayed one off and it’s paid off in the end. He’s a lovely horse and has been well taken care of.
“I won a trial (August 29) on him, and I always felt he was not the finished product yet. He’s a progressive three-year-old going forward.
“Krisna has done all the work on him and won on him on debut, he deserves all the credit.”
Field Marshal has already recouped his price tag of NZ60,000 as a two-year-old having now pocketed around $80,000 in prizemoney for the Middle Kingdom Stable, which together with its affiliation with the Ultima Racing Stable, the new sponsor of next Friday week’s Group 3 El Dorado Classic (2000m), gave their usual rapturous welcome to the winner at the weigh-in.