Singapore Gold Cup

Asian Racing Federation member Singapore held their feature S$1,350,000, (SG1) Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) at Kranji last Sunday with success for leading trainer Mark Walker and jockey Benny Woodworth with Elite Invincible (IRE).

Walker and Woodworth win their first Singapore Gold Cup
Walker and Woodworth win their first Singapore Gold Cup

Walker’s four-year-old gelding by Archarcharch went into Sunday’s race as the winner of the (SG2) Stewards’ Cup (1400m) and the (SG1) Giovanni Racing Charity Bowl (1600m).

Elite Invincible made a bold and unexpected on-pace run under Woodworth that saw him stave off a gallant Circuit Land (USA) under Ruan Maia by a head and send the trainer and jockey into raptures.

Twice crowned champion trainer in Singapore and five times in his native New Zealand, Walker had yet to lay hands on the Gold Cup since his relocation in 2010.

While he had most of the feature races back home ticked off on his successful resume, Group 1 wins at Kranji had in contrast not been quite a staple, until Elite Invincible recently broke the duck in the Charity Bowl in June.

Elite Invincible also brought up Walker’s 500th Kranji winner in the country’s richest and most prestigious domestic race.

“There is no ‘I’ in team, this has been a team effort, and to make it at my 500th win here is the icing on the cake,” said Walker.

Woodworth, does not often ride for Walker, but does boast one win aboard Elite Invincible earlier in February in a Kranji Stakes B race over 1600m.

Woodworth has been on the Malayan Racing Association (MRA) circuit for more than 25 years, but it has also been a rollercoaster ride as well.

The Ipoh-born rider was considered as a prodigy in his early days with four champion apprentice jockey titles and one senior title. The naturally-gifted jockey went on to ride around the world with the same success, including winning a Mauritius champion jockey title in 2007.

His star, however, dimmed in the 2010’s, with support dwindling, but a decision to call Kranji home around four years ago has turned his fortunes around.

Woodworth enjoyed his best Singapore season last year with three Group wins, headed by the Group 1 Singapore Guineas with Forever Young. It was no flash in the pan, as the revival has shown no letting-up this season with another prolific haul – ninth on 30 winners.

The Singapore Gold Cup was one race he had in vain tried to win for many years.

“This is by far my biggest win in my entire career, be it here or anywhere around the world,” he said.

“The Gold Cup is the race any jockey wants to win. It has got the best prizemoney, and has a lot of glamour. I am so happy I have managed to win it.”
Mr Clint (NZ) and Sydney jockey Jay Ford were third in the race. The time on the Yielding rated track was 2.02.79.

Elite Performance has now won stakes of S$1,993,353 for the Elite Performance Stable of owner Mr Aloysius Chew. It was the sixth Kranji win for Elite Performance from 12 starts.