When the hot favourite Rahotu came out of the $20,000 Open Maiden race over the Polytrack 1,100m on Saturday, most assumed the coast would be clear for the next two in the market, Golden Monkey and Shang Chi.
Even the latter’s trainer, Shane Baertschiger, said he would be lying if the same thought had not crossed his mind when Donna Logan’s much-vaunted newcomer went ballistic in barrier one and was scratched.
But the Australian handler was also convinced the end result would not have differed much, even if the original field had been sent on its way.
Short of surmising Shang Chi would have still beaten Rahotu fair and square, Baertschiger was just happy No. 1 was semaphored the winner – a logical one in his book.
To him, the Dissident four-year-old has come on further from his first-up third on turf and was a proven quantity on the all-weather in New Zealand.
“At his first run, he drew wide, got back and flew home, running the last 400m in 22.5sec – and that was on turf,” said Baertschiger.
“In seven starts in New Zealand, his three placings came at his three starts on the Polytrack. He was never placed on turf there. So I was quite confident he would run well on Poly.
“Not to mention he has also come on from that first run, and also drew a better barrier (five). I respected the favourite, but I was actually surprised mine was not shorter in the market when you consider all these factors.”
Jockey Matthew Kellady could not agree more with Baertschiger, a trainer he has worked with from day one.
But, as the one holding the reins, he must have clenched his fists tighter when the yellow flag was waved at the hotshot.
The confidence just kept growing as the naturalised Singaporean settled Shang Chi into the gun spot behind the leading trio, while keeping new favourite Golden Monkey (Oscar Chavez) in a pocket.
Peeled out three wide round the corner, Shang Chi quickly laid down the law, as he opened up a commanding 31/2-length win from City Gate (Akmazani Mazuki).
Golden Monkey did eventually find a way out, but had to settle for third, 21/2 lengths away.
Shortening into second favouritism after Rahotu’s withdrawal, Shang Chi returned $18 for a win. He ran the Polytrack 1,100m in 1min 6.22sec.
“This horse came with a bit of race experience back home. When the favourite flipped back in the gates and was scratched, that gave me some confidence,” said Kellady.
“He jumped well and put himself there right behind the speed. The pace suited him and he did everything by himself.”
Named after a Marvel superhero, Shang Chi races in the green and pink silks of Hong Kong owner Ben Kwok Chun Wai, whose stock is mainly in New Zealand.
He recently dipped his toes into the Singapore market with Good Fight and High Water, first with Mark Walker and now Logan.
“It’s my first horse for Ben Kwok. Hopefully, there’ll be more on the way,” said Baertschiger.
“It was a great effort from that horse, considering he ran two weeks ago and was having only his second start.
“He’s by Dissident, so I think he’ll get 1,400m to 1,600m.
“But, for now, I’ll set him for a Novice race over 1,200m in two weeks’ time.