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Aramco hands Baertschiger his third Garden City Trophy
Michael Lee

Trainer Shane Baertschiger continued his charmed run in the Garden City Trophy with a third success in the $200,000 Group 3 race over 1200m courtesy of Aramco on Sunday.


The Australian handler actually had the winner of his two previous victories (2014 and 2017), Faaltless, in the race as part of a trio of runners he was gang-tackling this year’s renewal with, the third member being none other than his Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic winner Be Bee.


But it was Aramco ($17), himself already a ‘black type’ winner in this year’s Group 3 JBBA Rocket Man Sprint (1200m), who delivered, bursting through the pack at the 300m marker to post a one-length win from $14 favourite Mister Yeoh (Michael Rodd).

Aramco (Vlad Duric) comes with a late burst to claim the Garden City Trophy.

Ridden by Vlad Duric for a very rare combination between the Singapore champion jockey and Baertschiger, Aramco, however, looked to have his job cut out when still spotting stablemate and race-leader Faaltless (Matthew Kellady) about seven lengths upon straightening up for the judge.


Only a born optimist would have believed in Aramco’s chances at the 300m when Mister Yeoh shot to the front for Rodd, looking in full cry and unstoppable.


But the complexion of the race was suddenly turned on its head when Duric was able to find daylight for the Magic Albert six-year-old at the 250m. Mister Yeoh did put up a stiff fight, but Aramco lengthened up a touch better as he came wearing him down with a withering burst before edging clear for a one-length win.


Certainly not disgraced, Mister Yeoh wound up a clear second-best with Special King (Barend Vorster) also running a cracker of a race as he stayed on for third place another 1 ½ lengths away. Smokie Biraz (Wong Chin Chuen) flashed home late to just miss a podium finish by a head. The winning time was 1min 8.77secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.


Be Bee (John Powell) also ran an eye-catcher coming from a hopeless position in the ruck to grab fifth place, another head away.


“Aramco was very relaxed today, he didn’t rip and tear,” said Baertschiger.


“He was on the back of Mister Yeoh, and showed a strong finish. Vlad wanted to be on him a month ago, and he couldn’t have ridden him any better.”


When asked about his close affinity for the Garden City Trophy, Baertschiger had a simple reply.


“I don’t have many stayers. Hopefully these sprinters hold up together and keep going around.”

Winning connections celebrate Aramco's victory: (from left) trainer Shane Baertschiger, an unidentified representative,
stable representative Miss Hong Ai Ling and jockey Vlad Duric.

It was therefore without surprise that Baertschiger has set his sights on another sprint feature for Aramco next year, the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m). Aramco was actually well beaten by Lim’s Cruiser in this year’s edition in May, but had excuses as he was caught deep throughout.


“There isn’t much for him. He will probably go for the Lion City Cup next year,” he said.


If Baertschiger’s yard is a little wanting in the middle-distance horses at the moment, he may well have one worthy customer in that department soon.


“Be Bee ran good. He is looking for more ground now,” he said.


Duric was delighted he had been spot-on in his homework. The horse he had locked in on his radar from a long way out has come up trumps, and the win was especially more satisfying when it came for a yard he seldom rides for.


In his six seasons (including 2009 to 2011 when the yard was then run by Baertschiger’s father Don), Duric has won only once for them – Faaltless last year. The second hurrah could not have come at a more auspicious timing.


“At the handicaps, he was well suited in this race (54kgs). It was well worth wasting for that,” said the heavyweight jockey.


“The speed was on, which was good as he can be a hard-going horse. The blinkers on helped and he also needs a good speed upfront.


“Today, we had a soft run at the back. He then got a fantastic run through, he was always going to win the race from that point.


“Stretch (Baertschiger) has done a wonderful job with this horse and I’m so happy I was able to ride a winner for him, especially in a Group race.”


Aramco has now taken his smart record to seven wins and five placings from 18 starts for stakes money in excess of $550,000 for the Aramco Stable.