Matamata duo kicking goals in Asia
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.
A rush of winners lately has Mark Walker on target for a second Singapore trainers’ premiership.