Hat-trick Hero zeroes in on derby, Latest Racing News

The progressive Hero not only brought up a terrific treble for leading trainer Tim Fitzsimmons on Saturday, but also saw a tilt at the Singapore Derby gain traction following his impressive win.

The Warrior’s Reward four-year-old already had two wins when he headed for the $50,000 Class 4 race over 1,600m. 

But the record might have also read better had he not run into traffic problems at his recent starts.

A more trouble-free run in transit under Manoel Nunes was promising better on Saturday. But luck seemed to be deserting him again when he was denied a rails gap at the 450m mark, as the race leader Green Star (Mohd Zaki) rolled in.

There was more trouble ahead when Con Speranza (Marc Lerner), who had taken the lead, suddenly veered off. The two horses brushed, with Nunes even looking off-balance.

But Hero was not going to let the “villain” get away. Though clearly disrupted, he quickly got back on an even keel, before sweeping past Con Speranza for a one-length victory.

A long gap behind in third was King Louis (Akmazani Mazuki).

Hero clocked 1min 35.05sec for the 1,600m on the long course, 0.1sec quicker than Strong N Best in the Class 3 event straight after.

After Golden Monkey and Magnificent Gold won earlier, Fitzsimmons was turning the tables on Michael Clements in the Singapore trainers’ premiership. 

Last week, the Australian gave up the lead to Clements after he had a blank day. Clements, the 2020 champion, fired a treble to draw level, but gained the lead on a countback for seconds.

The roles were flipped on Saturday for what may well set the tone for a riveting title fight this year, even if there is still a long way to go.

Fitzsimmons, though, was keener to talk about his horses than any battle for training supremacy.

“Hero’s a really nice progressive horse,” he said of the third pin of his hat-trick. “He can get the 1,800m. So he’s definitely a Derby horse. One of them at least, as I also have other four-year-olds like Relentless, Illustrious and even Lucky Jinsha.”

The Group 1 Singapore Derby over 1,800m is on July 17.

“Hero was unlucky at his last two starts, he was checked and bumped. I was really happy with his condition going into the race. He’s been working great,” said Fitzsimmons.

“I told myself, if he had the luck, then he had a great chance of winning, even if Con Speranza looked hard to beat. 

“He nearly didn’t have the luck when Con Speranza rolled out and bumped him in the straight. But he kept going and would have won on protest, anyway.”

Nunes, on the other hand, is well clear on his own log – 41 winners, 23 clear of Oscar Chavez. This follows yet another four-timer – his fourth this year.

He just attributed his rampant form to handy rides.

“It’s all about the support. I have to thank all the trainers and owners who put me on their horses,” said the three-time Singapore champion jockey (2014-2016).

“Hero won a nice race. There was some speed on when Marc Lerner wanted to go forward and my horse got into a lovely spot on the rails, and was travelling very comfortably. 

“When Marc’s horse drifted out a little in the straight, there was some contact, but my horse had plenty of time to recover.”

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