Trainer Stephen Burridge knows he is closer to the end of his career than the start, but that does not diminish the drive to add more silverware to the cabinet before he eventually does hang up the stopwatch.
And after the experienced Australian conditioner surprised a few by winning the Group 3 Kranji Sprint (1200m) with noted miler Mr Malek last weekend, Burridge is banking on the progressive Invincible Tycoon to maintain the rage by winning the $110,000 Group 3 Silver Bowl (1400m) on Sunday.
The first leg of the Four-Year-Old Challenge, the Silver Bowl has attracted the cream of the age group with Super Salute and Golden Monkey – who ran one-two respectively in the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1400m) on April 23 – heading the ratings in the eight-horse field.
So, while Burridge knows Invincible Tycoon will have to improve again on two recent wins in Class 4 (April 23 over 1200m) and Class 3 (May 20 over 1400m) company to have a serious say in the finish on Sunday, the race is there to be won and the stable will not die wondering.
“Look, the horse (Invincible Tycoon) is in form and he’s four-years-old. So it was a no brainer really,” said the 2010 Singapore champion trainer.
“But it was his convincing Class 3 win the other day that stamped his papers to have a crack at this race. (Trainer) Jason’s (Lim) horse (Super Salute) is very hard to beat and Golden Monkey is obviously very good too. But our bloke deserves his spot.
“And he doesn’t know how to run a bad race. He raced upside down (over-raced badly) at his first start in Singapore, so you can forgive that run. He’s won three and placed twice at his other five starts, so he has some upside.”
Whether or not that upside is enough for the Lim’s Stable-owned son of I Am Invincible to challenge both Super Salute – gunning for seven straight wins – and last year’s champion three-year-old, Golden Monkey, is the $110,000 question.
But Burridge thinks the race should suit his rising star.
“We have drawn awkwardly (barrier seven) but there should be plenty of pace on early so (jockey) Marc (Lerner) can ride him where comfortable.
“Hopefully midfield or better in this small field and as I said, his Class 3 win the other day was pretty good (when beating the only mare in the Silver Bowl – Istataba – by two-and-three-quarter lengths).
“He had a gallop on Tuesday and we couldn’t be happier with how he is going. You have to run them when they are fit and happy, and he is both.”
Going forward, Burridge also thinks a throw at the stumps for the next two legs of the 4YO challenge – the $150,000 Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) on July 2 and the $400,00 Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) on July 23 – is on the cards.
“Obviously he would have to be competitive on Sunday (Silver Bowl) but no reason why he wouldn’t go to the next two legs,” said Burridge, who started training in his own right in 2005.
“He certainly gives the impression he will get over further. He’s definitely more relaxed too, which is good.
“And you have to remember he only raced on bog (rain effected) tracks back in Australia, so he is really enjoying some good tracks at Kranji. My son Wade (Burridge) bought him for that very reason, and he was right.
“Mr Lim (Siah Mong) liked him, so bought him from me the week before his first race in Singapore. It’s great to race horses in the Lim (Stable) colours. A very good owner. I‘ve had plenty of good horses with him and won the (Group 2) Golden Horseshoe back in 2018 with Lim’s Lightning.
“It would be nice to win another trophy for Mr Lim before we (Singapore racing) shut down.”
Of the shock news on Monday that 180 years of racing in Singapore would end after next years Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (October 2024), Burridge was angry, but more concerned for the future of the younger trainers.
“I’m lucky. I’ve had a good career,” said the trainer who rates winning the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup with Risky Business in 2010 as a career highlight.
“But what about the guys just starting? Like Jason (Lim). He’s only just won his first Group race a few weeks ago (Super Salute in the EW Barker Trophy) and what’s he going to do now?
“Most of the trainers have families to look after and it’s not that easy to move and start somewhere else. Some of them – most really – will have to get out of the game altogether or start again as an assistant.
“It’s heartbreaking really.”
– Singapore Turf Club