A good dose of patience from trainer Tan Kah Soon was well rewarded with War Frontier (NZ) (Declaration of War) getting off the mark at his seventh start in Singapore on Friday night.
The Malaysian handler had always held the Mark Treloar-bred son of Declaration Of War in high opinion as a two-year-old last year, but the penny didn’t quite drop in three runs.
A gelding operation didn’t quite yield the expected improvement at his new three-year-old campaign when running unplaced in the Saas Fee Stakes (1200m).
It was back to the drawing board for Titanium Racing Stable’s Jeffrey Soh’s galloper. Tan tweaked a few more things around, and there was a glimmer of hope he was finally making some headway when he ran second first-up to Superlative in a Restricted Maiden race over 1200m on January 12.
Tan struggled to find a race for him thereafter, hence the prolonged time without racing, until Friday’s S$75,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1200m came up.
The two winning manoeuvres bore the hallmark of first-time partner Michael Rodd.
First, the Australian jockey dragged him from a bunched-up field to tuck him onto the fence behind favourite Kharismaafter the start. And when he popped him off the fence at the 550m to collar race-leader Fort Mustang three wide around the home turn, one second later could have proved costly.
While Kharisma took the shortcuts home along the rails, War Frontier was already launched down the middle of the track for a well-timed run to the line where he gamely held a one-length margin on Kharisma.
“He has definitely matured from two to three. We made a few changes to him after his last run last year,” said Tan.
“He responded well to the changes. Physically, he’s stronger, he’s come back a different horse.
“We gelded him after his two-year-old campaign, not that he was coltish. Let’s just say he was growing in the wrong places.
“Physically, he’s not very big, but he’s very well put together. He looks like he’s grown half a hand and is much stronger in front, and the farriers have also done a good job on his feet.
“I always thought he was above average. When he ran second first-up, John (Sundradas) told me he hit the front too soon.
“I gave him a short break. He was supposed to run in a Class 4 race over 1400m two weeks ago, but he was balloted out.
“Well done to the boys for keeping him ticking over without overdoing things, especially his regular track rider Mutaza Salleh.
“Michael gave him a patient ride tonight. That move at the 500m was the winning move.”
The Australian rider could not agree more, even if the way the race panned out brought an element of luck to the charmed run.
“The inside runners were really quick and I decided to duck back on the rails and that was how I got behind Kharisma who drew barrier one,” said Rodd.
“Downhill, I was able to negotiate a run around, and all the runs came up. I was lucky I had a soft run in the first half and he showed a good turn of foot in the second half.”
War Frontier was purchased by Soh out of Curraghmore's 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock draft for $80,000 and is from the family of Group winners Good Faith, Tully Dane, Daffodil and Believe Yourself. -STC, Curraghmore