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Aramco just makes it first-up
Michael Lee

Favourite backers needed to have a strong heart after the photo judge was called upon to split hotpot Aramco from Webster in the $100,000 Class 1 race over 1200m on Sunday.

Resuming from his all-time career best win in the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) six weeks ago, trainer Shane Baertschiger’s smart sprinter was still viewed by most as a moral in the small six-horse field, starting at prohibitive odds of $6.


After one of his two stablemates (other one is Blue Swede), Dutrow (Matthew Kellady) ensured it was a true run race upfront, some would have already queued up at the betting window as the Magic Albert six-year-old went sauntering past his rivals with ease.

Aramco (Vlad Duric, No 2) gets the better of Webster (Simon Kok Wei Hoong, obscured) by a nose in
Race 3.

But inside the last furlong, they would have been clutching their tickets with clammy hands. Aramco had hit the front too soon, and with Webster (Simon Kok Wei Hoong), who was in receipt of eight kilos, sneaking up on his nearside with a stinging challenge, the jaws of defeat suddenly appeared.


Champion jockey Vlad Duric – who had by then established a perfect score of three-from-three aboard Aramco - needed to conjure up some magic to prevent the unthinkable from happening and maintain an unblemished record.


As it already did not look too pretty, the Australian jockey decided to keep things simple. Just stick to his strongest suit – brute strength with the shillelagh.


The Kranji crowd held their breath as the duelling pair hit the line, with the verdict narrowly going Aramco’s way by a nose. Stablemate Blue Swede (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) let down late to take third place another 1 ¼ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 10.17secs for the 1200m on the Short Course.


“He did a good job considering he had 58kgs on his back. He also hit the front too soon,” said Baertschiger.


“It was a small field and he gave weight to most. It was a good tough win.


“The (Group 2) Merlion Trophy (1200m on August 25) will be better for him at set weights. Vlad has an unbeaten record with him now.”


The two-time Singapore champion jockey blamed the smallness of the field partly for jumping the gun with the now 10-time winner from the 400m.


“He usually needs to have a bit more happening, he needs a quieter ride, but he was in a small field today,” he said.


“I was in the slipstream at first, but he overraced a bit when I lost my cover. That forced me to get to the front early.


“He’s a better chaser. I was confident until the 50m mark when I saw Webster who is a smart horse and has only 50kg on his back.


“But he held on well for the win.”


Aramco has now taken his stakes earnings past the $1.1 million mark for his owners, the Aramco Stable.