Horse racing: Knight's in Command

Horse racing: Knight's in Command
Knight’s Command responding to apprentice Z Zuriman’s riding to beat Super Junior (No. 5) in Race 7 at Kranji on 16 March 2014.

It's been a long time between drinks for Knight's Command, but the wait has been well worth it, given his litany of problems, after he won the $75,000 Class 3 race over 1,600m in Race 7 on Sunday.

A three-time winner from only five starts in his native New Zealand, the lightly-raced Pins six-year-old has not quite reproduced the same form at Kranji, scoring only once from 18 starts in a Class 4 race over 1,600m last April.

Encouraged by that breakthrough, trainer Bruce Marsh stepped him up in grade to test his mettle further.

Though Knight's Command did not return to the winner's circle, his runs had not been all that bad, considering the many challenges he presented in terms of stable management

Twice he came back lame post-race, even running a fast-finishing third to World War once, but Marsh knew that was just the tip of the iceberg, as other niggles lying beneath had to be addressed.

The way Knight's Command came from near-last to beat Sunday's field, which was made up of handy Class 3 gallopers like Riedel, stablemate Cool Customer and Super Junior, was certainly a great source of satisfaction for Marsh and the connections, the TITS & LFS Stable.

Full Toss set a steady tempo at the start with Solitaire in close attendance, while favourite Riedel was at the rear.

SWEEPING RUN

Knight's Command was dwelling, ahead of just Iluminado.

But, as the field packed up at the top of the straight, Knight's Command had already taken closer order with a sweeping run that got him within touching distance of the leading protagonists, made up of Super Junior, Cool Customer and Vertical Start, while the swoopers like Riedel and World War were also chiming in.

But, well ridden by apprentice Z Zuriman, Knight's Commander ($42) came with a flourish to take home the top prize, scoring by one and a quarter lengths from Super Junior.

"He's always been a lovely horse with loads of ability but, unfortunately, with loads of problems, too," said Marsh.

"He's always had bad joints and a bad back, and I think we left him as a colt too long. That was why he was always hanging in so badly.

"We put on some new gear today - the right-sided blinkers - and I think they definitely helped him. On his work and his last run, I was confident he would run well today."

Knight's Command had been fitted with different types of headgear in his previous 18 starts, even donning blinkers on his debut.

The visor was probably seen as the permanent solution after it came on at his only previous win, but Marsh's latest tinkering has proven to be yet another masterstroke.


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