The island of Penang is a beautiful place at the best of times. The holiday island of Malaysia proved to be a happy hunting ground for South African jockey, Greg Cheyne as he picked up his first Group 1 event in the East by capturing the Sprint Trophy on Sunday.
MR RAFFLES, trained by Michael Freedman, was the only Singapore trained horse to contest the Sprint Trophy this year and galloped into the history books as the first Singapore runner to win the race since the resumption of cross-border racing. It was also Cheyne's first experience riding in Malaysia after the Singapore based jockey took up the challenge of racing in Penang.
Since the resumption of cross-border racing in 2005, no Singapore trained runner has managed to win the Penang Sprint Trophy. The breakthrough came today when the Michael Freedman-trained MR RAFFLES (Storm Creek - Force Fillee by Foxbay) outclassed his rivals to win the 1400m event.
It also marked a dream debut in Malaysia for South African jockey Greg Cheyne who flew in just to ride the six-year-old. The Race was local Group 1 event & worth RM500 000 (+/-R1,250,000).
Cheyne told SAHorseracing.com, "I won on Mr Raffles back in February at Kranji & placed 3rd at his next start in March. I never rode him in his next two but was very pleased when I got the call from Michael to go up to Penang. It was fortunate that we had no meeting scheduled for Sunday in Singapore & I could take the quick 1 hour flight North for my first trip to Malaysia."
"Mr Raffles is an on-pace runner & when he jumped smartly I was always able to dictate the race to suit. Rounding the home turn I him let slide along & when I asked him to go, he really shot away from his rivals & won by 5,5L at the end," he continued.
It was a good effort from Michael Freedman's team as he can be a very tricky horse to work with. He lost close to 20kg on his trip up there & was pretty fired up in the pre race parade but obviously the homework was done by the stable to get him ready for such a big effort.