Jockey Daniel Moor rode his first winner at his current short-term stint in Singapore after the well-tried February broke through for his maiden win in the Starlight 2021 Stakes, a $75,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1600m on Saturday.
Moor – who was at his second weekend of riding on a shortened nine-week contract in Singapore – was in no rush early on the three-year-old son of Sacred Falls. He was happy to settle at the rear of the small eight-horse field.
A solid early clip by leader Top Show (Calvin Habib) and Apis (Mohd Zaki) gave Moor the option to track up behind Hayato (Saifudin Ismail) into a handier position on the bend. With second favourite and February’s biggest danger, Single Warrior (Benny Woodworth) on his inside, the race was panning out perfectly for the even-money favourite.
February was given every chance on turning for home – and with Single Warrior battling to make an impression when asked for an effort early in the straight – the race was February’s for the taking, albeit Apis had kicked strongly at the 300m and looked to be up for the fight.
Those punters that took the short quote must have their hearts in their mouths as February was running out of ground. But with 100m to go, the Stephen Gray-trained gelding levelled up before finishing strongly to win by a length over the game Apis.
Jungle Cruise (Wong Chin Chuen) ran another two lengths away in third, with Darcy (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) improving at his third start to finish another three-quarters length away in fourth.
The winning time was 1 min 35.38secs for the 1600m on the Long Course, which was 0.01 second faster than the Class record set by Mariana Trench in a similar race last year.
February’s maiden win from five starts took his prizemoney to over $62,000 for the Falcon Racing No 7 Stable.
Moor was surprised by the early pace of the race but pointed out that February was at his best when it counted.
“Small field, lack of any real speed – I was actually surprised they went at the gallop that they did,” said the Australian Group 1-winning jockey, whose last win in Singapore came atop the Jason Ong-trained Fighting Hero on July 17 last year.
“He showed at his last start that he doesn’t finish off as well when he’s ridden a little closer in the field, but he’s a young horse with quality that’s still learning his craft, so we made it nice and simple to go back and found a nice spot three deep with cover.
“He took a while to get his act together and hit the line, but the strongest part of his race was the last bit, which is encouraging.”
Going forward, Moor reckoned that February has more to offer for his patient trainer and owners.
“He will get the development and care with Stephen who’s not afraid to take his time with a horse. The Falcon Racing (No 7 Stable) team are very good to me; they’re very patient owners, which is good.
“He’s (February) still developing, so even if it’s not this prep (preparation) or the next, he will really shine at his third preparation.
“I’m loving being back. Love the country and the racing!
“There was difficulty attaining the work permit and that cut April short, but I’m looking forward to staying as long as I can and it doesn’t interfere with the Spring Carnival in Melbourne.”
Moor’s smile grew even wider after he claimed a double with the Michael Clements-trained Coin Toss in the $150,000 Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic (1400m) nine races later (see later report).
Gray agreed wholeheartedly with Moor that February has a staying future.
“It wasn’t a strong race but he’s a lovely horse and he wants to stay now,” said the New Zealander, who pulled off a brace with Gemilang ($30) in the $30,000 War Affair 2014 Stakes, a Class 5 race over 1400m seven races later.
“We rode him too handy the other day (April 23). We tried to ride him to win the race and it put him out of his comfort zone a little bit, so I said to Daniel the other day to trust the horse, ride him quiet and let him stay, and he did.
“He’s a nice horse and could have won his second and third starts and he keeps turning up. He’s done a good job on a two-week back-up.”