SINGAPORE - EMPEROR MAX stamped himself as one of the horses to watch in 2014 when he won his fifth race in a row and, in the process, remained undefeated at Kranji.
It was also a great occasion for New Zealand jockey Lisa Allpress. The Kiwi lass has been in the stirrups in all of the Emperor's wins - going back to that debut in October last year.
It was suggested in many quarters that Emperor Max would be severely tested by WAR AFFAIR, who was making a comeback a four-month break.
Alas, it was a no-contest. Emperor Max won fair and square - much to the delight of trainer Stephen Gray and Allpress' mother, who made a special trip from the Land Of The Long White Cloud to watch her daughter and the horse who, in Lisa's own words, was now "part of the family".
"I'm really, really pleased," she gushed after the weigh-in. "I really love this horse. He's like a family member. Everybody loves him. The stable staff, the syces - everybody.
"My mum is here. So this is even more special. I'm happy she saw me win on Emperor Max."
Gray, who has turned out Emperor Max looking like a million bucks in all his five races, confessd to being "really excited" when his charge dashed to the line to beat War Affair.
"I knew he had some advantage and we knew we had a chance. But we still had to go out there and win it. That, we did. I'm happy for Lisa."
In last Sunday's race - a Kranji Stakes A event worth $125,000 and run over the 1,200m on the long course - Emperor Max jumped well but was shuffled back and, after 250m, Allpress had him sitting in a lonely fourth position as Mr Big dictated things. War Affair, who came in for inspired betting late on, was fifth.
When they angled out for the run to the post, Allpress made her move on Emperor Max. Taking a run three wide, she went after the leaders.
When asked for an effort, the "Emperor", his ears pricked, knew what he had to do and he had the lead with 150m to travel.
That was when War Affair threw down his challenge but Allpress, riding hell for leather, drove her mount to win a truly exciting race. Sent off as top fancy, Emperor Max paid $11 for the win.
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