SINGAPORE - The trainer Bruce Marsh-apprentice Zuriman Zulkifli team were right on song again on Sunday, combining with CHEETAH ON FIRE to bring up the second leg of a winning double for the weekend.
Marsh and his apprentice had collected a win last Friday, when HYPERNOVA scored first-up from a break in a Class 3 speed dash over 1,000m on the Polytrack.
But the second success was even less expected when Cheetah On Fire defied his massive odds of $104 to finish over the top of a handy Kranji Stakes C field in a 1,200m Polytrack race worth $75,000.
Marsh actually picked up a treble over the two meetings, as ADRENALINE also scored his maiden win with Manoel Nunes up last Friday.
Though Cheetah On Fire, a One Cool Cat five-year-old, scored at his last start three weeks ago in a similar 1,200m race on his pet alternative surface, the general belief was he would have the job ahead against stronger opposition, especially with the likes of Got Luck, One Smart Cat and Empire Bay considered higher in the pecking order.
But Zuriman rode him like he was the best horse in the field, and the much-improved rookie was repaid for his faith with a storming run on the outside in the final 100m to beat Let's See Action (Barend Vorster).
Settled at the rear one off the rails, Cheetah On Fire got all revved up once his rider tried to angle him out at the top of the straight.
Got Luck (Danny Beasley), who had to do it tough in front a bit wide, was wishing the finishing line would come sooner, as he started to run on empty at the 150m mark.
Then, Let's See Action popped up on the rails and looked all set for victory and a race-to-race double for trainer Patrick Shaw, who had pinched the main race with $121 surprise packet DAMO.
But Zuriman had other ideas as his horse came roaring past the leading bunch to gatecrash their party.
Let's See Action secured the runner-up spot, half a length away.
Empire Bay (apprentice Noh Senari) had to settle for third place, separated by an identical margin.
The winning time was 1min 11.89sec.
To add further insolence to the win, Zuriman could even afford to pose for the camera at the wire, cockily turning his head to the outside rails with a wide grin and a stuck-out tongue.
"Up the straight, I had a wall of horses in front of me, but I knew he would finish very strongly because they went very fast early. He was always travelling very well for me," said Zuriman.
"I know this horse well and, even though he was up in class, I was confident he could measure up. Once he saw daylight, he attacked the line very well.
"I'm very happy with the way things are going. My boss is putting me on good horses and I'm glad I'm able to ride winners for him."
Zuriman deserves the success, says Marsh
Trainer Bruce Marsh said Cheetah On Fire was no world-beater but, on his day and if circumstances are in his favour, he is seldom without a big say.
"He's been battling away in Class 4 and Class 5 company, but today was his day," said the Kiwi conditioner.
"His last run was full of merit and there was no reason not to have a crack at a better race. Winning form is good form and he's done a good job again.
"I'm very pleased for Zuriman. He's a good team player, puts in the hard yards at the stable.
"He is also riding in fine form and he fully deserves the success coming his way."
Cheetah On Fire has now recorded four wins and six placings for earnings past the $165,000 mark for Wilson Racing Stable.
Marsh was not surprised Hypernova won first-up.
"He's a clean-winded horse and you can really get him to relax in his races," he said.
"As long as he can get a smother, he will relax and, with the first two going fast in front, they were always going to come back to us. When he hit the front, he was not going to get beaten.
"I put him away because I wanted him to grow further as he was still young. I don't have any big plans for him, just look around for a similar race.
"Zuriman has ridden Hypernova before and I had no hesitation putting him back on him. He rode him a treat."
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