Mata­mata duo kick­ing goals in Asia

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - DEN­NIS RYAN

Be­tween them Paul O’Sul­li­van and Mark Walker won 16 New Zealand train­ers’ pre­mier­ships while based in Mata­mata and they’ve con­tin­ued to ply their trade to great ef­fect in Asia.

A rush of win­ners has re­cently en­abled Sin­ga­pore-based Mark to put a handy break on de­fend­ing ti­tle-holder Al­win Tan in the race for the 2017 (cal­en­dar year) pre­mier­ship.

Another two wins at Kranji on Sun­day took his tally to 51, which places him 16 wins ahead of his ri­val and in the best po­si­tion to add this year’s ti­tle to the first Sin­ga­pore pre­mier­ship he claimed in 2015.

Mark, who won five do­mes­tic pre­mier­ships last decade, re­lo­cated to Sin­ga­pore in 2010 as part of the plan to es­tab­lish an off­shore base for Te Akau Rac­ing.

His main sup­ply ini­tially was horses raced un­der the Te Akau syn­di­ca­tion struc­ture, but the client base has ex­panded as he has proven him­self and it’s a case of a per­ma­nent full house in his 60-horse Kranji sta­ble com­plex.

Mark was back in Mata­mata re­cently catch­ing up on home front mat­ters, but while he will never for­get the plat­form that en­abled him to make a suc­cess­ful tran­si­tion, it’s ob­vi­ous where his ma­jor fo­cus now is.

‘‘Sin­ga­pore rac­ing is in very good heart and I’m pleased to see some new ini­tia­tives com­ing to­gether that will mean fur­ther stakes in­creases,’’ he com­mented. ‘‘We’ve had another de­cent sea­son and I’ve got a very good staff struc­ture be­hind me as well as a solid pool of horses to draw on.

‘‘Al­win Tan is a lo­cal who has done a big job in the short time he has been train­ing and I’ll al­ways be wary of him, but we’re build­ing a handy break on the pre­mier­ship which we hope we can main­tain.’’

Mean­while, Paul O’Sul­li­van notched a per­sonal best in Hong Kong on Sun­day when he sad­dled up four win­ners from just five starters at Sha Tin.

Up against a se­lec­tion of the world’s best train­ers, Paul has yet to add a Hong Kong ti­tle to the 11 pre­mier­ships he col­lected in New Zealand.

Hav­ing moved to Hong Kong in 2004, he re­mains the only New Zealan­der to be granted a trainer’s li­cence by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and al­though it can be a lonely place so far from home, he has never re­gret­ted the move.

Paul’s best pre­mier­ship plac­ing to date is run­ner-up and last year he was equal fifth with 50 wins headed by the mighty Kiwi-bred geld­ing Aerov­e­loc­ity’s Hong Kong Sprint vic­tory. Sun­day’s four-timer was a wel- come turn­around in a 2016-17 sea­son marked by 88 sec­ond and third placeget­ters.

But with a cur­rent tally of 21 wins, Paul can still re­flect on a healthy stakes to­tal nudg­ing HK$42 mil­lion, which equates to nearly $4.5 mil­lion of our cur­rency – not a bad re­sult with­out a head­line per­former.

SUPPLIED

A rush of win­ners lately has Mark Walker on tar­get for a sec­ond Sin­ga­pore train­ers’ pre­mier­ship.

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