Tavistock's son Infantry battles best in Singapore

20 Nov 2016

The ghosts of Infantry's crushing Korean defeat have been well and truly vanquished after the Alwin Tan-trained gallant galloper made a sensational winning comeback at Kranji on Friday night.

In Seoul's Gr.1 Keeneland Korea Cup (1800m) in September, the Tavistock four-year-old was a far cry from the impressive three-year-old who swept to four wins in Singapore, backpedalling in the deep sand track to finish among the also-rans, sinking along with another Kranji runner, Order Of The Sun, who finished even further behind.

Fears that Infantry may not come back the same horse after such a dismal run were legitimate, but quickly allayed.

Tan was pleasantly surprised with his rapid form turnaround at his return to Kranji, immediately producing the Thai-owned gelding for Friday's S$100,000 The Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy, a benchmark rating 83 race over 1400m.

Taking full advantage of his marble one, Infantry travelled buried away along the rails in midfield, enjoying a ground-saving run to the point of turn, where jockey Manoel Nunes was clearly sweating on any gap to appear.

Hopelessly stuck behind a tightly-packed bunch of runners, Infantry at that stage looked headed for another classic case of certainty beaten, but as Murrayfield (Karis Teetan) slowly drifted off the rails, a pathway came up like a ray of hope.

The Brazilian jockey needed no persuasion as he punched Infantry right though.

That sizzling acceleration of his was back to the fore as he flashed along the rails towards a resounding 1¼-length win from Big Brother with Murrayfield third another 1¼ lengths away.

The winning time was 1min22.63secs for the 1400m on the Long Course.

"He's a real quality horse and that's why we sent him to Korea," Tan said of the Sir Patrick and Justine, Lady Hogan-bred Cambridge Stud graduate.

"He did not win, and that's because he didn't handle the track, but I was very surprised with the way his form quickly turned around, especially as he was away for more than two months.

"There was a question mark how fit he would be first-up and I did tell the owners not to expect the win, but he should still run a good race. I would say he was around 80 per cent fit for his comeback, but I have to say Manoel's ride also helped him.

"From the good gate, Manoel was able to get him in a lovely midfield place where he didn't spend much petrol, which was ideal given he was coming back from a break. I'll see how he pulls up, but I would say he should be going for the Colonial Chief Stakes next."

The Gr.3 Colonial Chief Stakes (1700m) is the last feature race on the Singapore racing calendar and will be run on Polytrack on December 4.

It's odds-on that Nunes would be back for that last steering mission for the year. The two-time Singapore champion jockey has always held Infantry in high regard, and was even more won over after that fifth win from 12 starts.

"Alwin took some time to bring him back after Korea. He gave him two trials, the first one an easy one and he went much better at the second," Nunes said.

"He's a big horse and I thought he would need the run tonight especially with the 58.5kg but he's such a classy horse. His run in Korea was not who he was. He's a horse who will be even better over 1800m to 2000m and the Colonial Chief in two weeks' time will be ideal for him."

With that latest win, Infantry has now taken his total earnings up to the S$360,000 mark for his connections. - Singapore Turf Club