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All Thrusters on in Saas Fee Stakes
Michael Lee

Exciting three-year-old Bold Thruster gave a foretaste of what may well be in store in next year’s Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge following a superlative win in the $200,000 Group 3 Saas Fee Stakes (1200m) on Friday night.


Previously held in May, the Saas Fee Stakes is for the first time open for only three-year-olds this year, making for an interesting prelude to the actual series course proper which kicks off with the Group 3 Singapore Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m) around March to culminate with the Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m) in May.


Trainer Shane Baertschiger’s black son of Turffontein’s odds would certainly be shaved off further following that fourth win that was as impressive as it was a sight to behold for racing enthusiasts. 

Bold Thruster (Barend Vorster) blows his rivals away in the Saas Fee Stakes.

Jumping smartly from barrier No 1 in the small but select seven-horse field, Bold Thruster darted straight to his favourite spot without any ado, but Autumn Assault (Benny Woodworth) and second-favourite Lim’s Lightning (Troy See) decided to slide up on his outside to keep him honest for most of the way.


If there were any doubts the close attention would soften up the $7 hotpot, they were quickly allayed.


Long heralded as the only one who could knock Bold Thruster off his perch, Lim’s Lightning did his chances no favours when he swung out wide at the corner, a clear sign the three-wide journey had taken its toll on him.


Autumn Assault was out of the race even earlier, gone like a pricked balloon, but Mo Almighty (Ben Thompson), the fresh legs on the scene, was closing in with great heart.


But there was absolutely no chink in the armour of Bold Thruster, who just kept finding to score with 1 ¾ lengths to spare from Mo Almighty. Written off at the top of the straight, Lim’s Lightning amazingly found a second gear late, the trademark of class, pinching late ground off the winner to run third 2 ¾ lengths behind Bold Thruster.


The winning time was 1min 8.84secs for the 1200m on the Long Course, only 0.1 second outside Faaltless’s (another one of Baertschiger’s) class record established in 2014.

Owner Susanna Goh (second from left) celebrates Bold Thruster's victory with trainer
Shane Baertschiger (third from left), jockey Barend Vorster (front), racing manager Jason Goh (right)
and friends on the stage.

While winning looked a breeze, Baertschiger let in on the scare the Tivic Stable-owned galloper gave them behind the scenes on Friday.


“Pleased and relieved with that win. There was a lot of pressure after the hard night we had last night – he had a touch of colic yesterday afternoon,” said the Australian handler.


“(Assistant-trainer) Scott (Bailey) deserves all the accolades for the way he stayed by his side, looking after him.


“It was only a mild colic, but we were still worried. Luckily, he trotted up the next morning and was fine.


“It’s a big team effort. John (Powell) rides him in trackwork and unfortunately rode him only once when things didn’t go right, Matty (Kellady) rides him in work as well.


“It’s a great feeling he won tonight and he’s off to the spelling paddocks now. He’ll be back for the first Leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge.”


Lightweight rider Vorster, who has been aboard Bold Thruster at all his four wins, arguably by default, given the light loads the black gelding carried in those races, has certainly enjoyed the joyride.


“The other horses did annoy him when they came next to him, but he was always travelling well,” said the South African jockey.


“At the 600m, I let him slide along, and when I asked him at the top of the straight, he gave a strong kick. When he got beaten last time, the winner (Zac Kasa) went past but he still came back.


“It was a strong quality race and he showed his quality tonight.”


With a smart record of four wins and one second in six starts, Bold Thruster has now pocketed more than $260,000 in prizemoney for the Tivic Stable of Mr Thomas Loke


Disappointment was palpable in the Lim’s Lightning corner, with trainer Steven Burridge rueing the wide path his charge had to plot as the main conviction.


“He couldn’t get in and was three wide all the way,” said Burridge.


“I thought he would run nowhere as you can’t win when you run like that on the Long Course, but he came back again late. He’ll be back for the 3YO series.”