Black Swan’s charmed run does not seem to end anytime soon, but only nine months ago, trainer Steven Burridge was wondering if he would even win a race one day.
After three seasons and 23 winless runs at Kranji, the son of Sebring had five seconds and three thirds as his best results to show for.
At least the placings did give room for some hope for the Big Valley Stable-owned gelding. That first win finally came in a Class 5 race over 2000m on June 11, 2017 when ridden by Michael Rodd.
Steven Burridge marvels at Black Swan’s meteoric rise.
As the saying goes, it has been onwards and upwards since. In 10 more starts, Black Swan has knocked in four more wins (1600m to 1800m) and four more placings.
From 43 points, he has nearly doubled up his rating to now sit on 81 points, earning 11 points at his last two back-to-back wins, first in Class 3 company, then in a Kranji Stakes B race.
Every time doubters think the Australian-bred five-year-old – who is chestnut and not black – will fail when the bar is raised, he seems to prove them wrong.
Sunday’s $100,000 Kranji Stakes B race over 1600m is the next hurdle, but Burridge has faith in the indisputably most-improved horse in his stable.
“He’s been the success story at the stable, hasn’t he?” said the Australian handler, who himself is enjoying his own success story as the current premiership leader.
“He couldn’t win a race and then he’s won five races and he’s in Class 2 and who knows, he could be my Gold Cup horse later in the year.
“And all that after he had bone chips removed last year followed by a wind op. Patience has paid off.”
The Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) is the country’s premier handicap race run on November 11.
Black Swan, who will again have his last-start winning partner, two-kilo claiming apprentice jockey Noh Senari up, is this week reverting to Polytrack, which Burridge thinks is his preferred surface even if the versatile gelding has won on both.
“It’s a Polytrack race he’s running in again. He seems to handle Polytrack better,” said Burridge who brought up his 700th winner with Chalaza on Sunday.
“I am looking at a Class 2 race over 2000m race in three weeks’ time for him (March 30).”
While Burridge will be pinning his hopes on Black Swan on Sunday, Lim’s Racer may well be the one to help extend his lead on Friday.
The 2016 Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) winner can mix her form, but has overall been a source of satisfaction to connections. The Red Giant mare won well at her last start, a Class 3 race over 1200m going all the way for Burridge’s apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong.
Unfortunately, Kok is suspended for careless riding aboard Dee Dee d’Or this week with Burridge again roping Noh in for the steering duties.
“Simon would have ridden her but he got suspended. I got Noh on instead and he will claim two kilos,” said Burridge.
“She’s a bit up in the weights, but she’s been working well and I expect her to run well again.”