Cancer survivor Mr Malek (NZ) (Swiss Ace) broke a long winless streak with a thrilling victory in the S$110,000 Kranji Sprint (1200m) in Singapore on Saturday.
Remarkably, the six-year-old son of Swiss Ace was second-up after a neck cancer that required surgery. That happened after an underwhelming campaign late last year, which culminated in an unplaced run in the Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) in November.
After five months on the sidelines, Mr Malek was not only back trialling, but also thriving, so much so that his first-up run in the Kranji Mile (1600m) was a belter as he ran on strongly to finish third in the race won by Lim’s Kosciuszko (Kermadec).
But the jury was out whether he could show his best dropping back to the 1200m in this first Leg of the STC Super Sprint series but Mr Malek prevailed by a head from Kharisma while Silent Is Gold ran another length away in third.
Burridge, whose last big race win at Kranji came with the same Mr Malek in the Stewards’ Cup, was quick to praise Mr Malek’s owner/breeder – Phua Chian Kin of the Oscar Racing Stable – before also lauding the horse and jockey for their efforts.
“I have to thank (owner) CK. He’s been very loyal to me,” said the Australian born trainer after the race.
“He probably could have moved him (Mr Malek) on when he wasn’t winning, other than the Stewards’ Cup two years ago.
“Honestly, he’s really thrived. That’s the only reason I ran him because he thrived so much. I just thought, well I’m going to take a punt.
“He was never going to win bar on the line, so it was great.
“Harry was my apprentice (jockey), both him and Simon (Kok Wei Hoong), so it was good to be able to put Harry on.”
Harry was glad to win another big race, especially on a horse he loves.
“This year, the only horse that can do it (for me) was Mr Malek. The way he ran in the Kranji Mile just showed that he came back to his (best) form again.
“Credit to Mr Burridge, my old boss! He’s done a fantastic job with the horse.
“And the vets did a great job too to get him back and (he’s now) another big race winner.”
With that ninth win and eight placings in 30 starts, Mr Malek has now amassed over S$860,000 in prizemoney for his connections.
Other New Zealand bred winners in Singapore on Saturday include Rich Fortune (NZ) (Keeper), Lim’s Zoom (NZ) (Zacinto) & Two Million (NZ) (Zacinto).