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Laxon waxes lyrical about Affleck
Michael Lee

Tagged as the only one who could step up to the plate should short-priced favourite Barnato falter in the third Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series, Affleck duly rose to the occasion with a pulverising win in the $90,000 Inglis Melbourne Stepitup Stakes (1200m) on Sunday.


A two-time trial winner in New Zealand, the Battle Paint two-year-old put the writing on the wall at his second barrier trial at Kranji, tearing his rivals apart to score by more than five lengths, erasing the memory of his first trial when second in the slow time of 1min 10.22secs.


Even trainer Laurie Laxon said half-jokingly he thought he was “no good” then, but the second attempt promptly set the record straight before he franked that solid reputation when he lowered the colours of first-Leg winner Barnato (Magic Millions Cash Luck Stakes) with contemptuous ease. 

Affleck (Danny Beasley) strides away to an impressive win on Sunday.

But without taking anything from Laxon’s new juvenile star, his win was probably made easier with Barnato pulling like a train from the backstraight in his endeavour to settle in third behind the leader Masurao (Alan Munro), forcing his jockey Barend Vorster to slip the reins prematurely.


Ridden by Danny Beasley, Affleck ($15), who jumped smartly to settle in the slipstream of the two leaders, could not have hoped for a better script as such head-throwing antics and an early move do not normally spell a win at the end of the journey.


The Patrick Shaw-trained Barnato did try to pinch a march on his rivals upon straightening, but once Affleck was peeled off for his run, the issue was never in any doubt. Darting to the lead in a flash, the new Oscar Racing Stable-owned galloper raced past Barnato like he was tacked to the ground to go and post a spectacular first-up win, just under three lengths clear of Barnato.


Such was the dominance of the first two that they ran the field ragged behind. Longshot A Lot In Hand (Lisa Allpress) did well to run on towards the business end, but 4 ¾ lengths behind, nosing out Masurao for third spot. The winning time was 1min 10.62secs.


Laxon was bringing up his second winner of this year’s Singapore Golden Horseshoe series, having already picked up the thicker end of the prize with Kiwi Karma in the second Leg, the IRT Juvenile Stakes.


“He ran two trials for two wins back home, though I didn’t think he was much good in that slow trial,” said Laxon.


“I knew he was a good horse before he came here. Again it’s my agent Phil Cataldo who rang me and told me about him, and I can’t stress enough how we cannot get good horses without a good agent.


“He looks well and I think he can become one of the top two-year-olds this year. I’ll see how he comes through this race, but he would be in the big race (Aushorse Golden Horseshoe on May 16) for sure.”

Trainer Laurie Laxon receives his trophy from Mr Peter Twomey, Asia representative for Inglis, with
Mr Phua Chian Kin looking on.

Beasley said he was in the zone the moment Affleck bounced out smartly to take up a handy spot, more so when the favourite started to pull his way into the lead from the 900m mark.


“He was so professional and just did what I asked him to do. Actually, he felt professional from the first day I sat on him,” said the Australian jockey.


“To me, he’s already a racehorse, a bit like Mr Big (former precocious juvenile). He’s got both the speed and the turn of foot.


“He got out of the gates quickly and immediately came back underneath me. I was very happy with his run behind the two other horses.


“Once I took him to the outside, he gave a very good kick and was just too good. I just gave him a couple of backhanders, and rode him hands and heels to the line.


“I have to thank Laurie and CK (Phua Chian Kin, Oscar Racing Stable’s owner) for giving me the opportunity to ride this horse.


“Laurie had already told me about two months ago he had a nice two-year-old for me, and he sure was spot-on.”


Being a New Zealand-bred, Affleck did not qualify for the $30,000 bonus up for grabs.