Superlative sneaks along the rails to cause an upset at Kranji. Photo: Singapore Turf Club
Superlative (NZ) (Ferlax) was not quite how one could describe the Gold Stable’s relative newcomer in either his work on the training tracks or inconspicuous debut in August last year, but the output at his second race certainly was closer to it.
The three-year-old son of 2013 Australian Guineas winner Ferlax was as expected given a wide berth in Sunday’s $75,000 Restricted Maiden-2 race over 1200m, but a snug ground-saving run on the rails courtesy of barrier No 1 was instrumental to the shock win.
From the top of the straight to the 200m, the top prize could be vied for by at least five chances, but under Juan Paul van der Merwe’s determined handling, it was Superlative who crept up in between runners to poke his head in front 100m out before edging past War Frontier (NZ) (Declaration of War) for the victory.
“Winner are grinners” was probably the best way to sum up trainer Cliff Brown’s frank expression of surprise at seeing Superlative upset the applecart on Sunday.
“It’s a big surprise. I thought he needed further than that, but it’s racing and things like that happens,” said the Australian handler, who prepares the bulk of the Yongs’ Gold Stable team of horses at Kranji.
“He’s a big strong horse but he’s been improving. We’ll take it.”
Van der Merwe, who has slowly turned into the go-to-man for Brown’s lowly-handicapped runners since his win on Lonhro Gold last October, was just as stunned by the result.
“I’m very surprised with the win. He’s been a handful at home,” said the South African lightweight jockey.
“I took him to the barrier trials and he was very nervous and scared at everything, but the ability is there.
“Hopefully he can calm down. Well done to Cliff.”
Bought unraced in New Zealand when known as Rolledoats, Superlative has earned his oats with a first paycheque worth around $40,000 for the Gold Stable.