Better Than Ever gave trainer Jason Bridgman immense satisfaction with a dashing victory in the G2 Awapuni Gold Cup on Saturday.
“To get a champion from another country and know the whole of Singapore will be watching this horse brings a lot of pressure,” Bridgman said. “So I’m thrilled.”
Better Than Ever (6g French Deputy – Songfest by Unbridled’s Song) attained superstar status in Singapore where he was unbeaten in his first 12 starts, including a Group 1 treble in the Singapore Guineas, Kranji Mile and Singapore Gold Cup.
The Australian-bred gelding was subsequently transferred to Bridgman after a bleeding attack last year and had placed in his first four appearances from his new quarters before yesterday’s victory. “There’s only one other option this season and that would be the Canterbury Gold Cup,” Bridgman said. “Or we could put him out and then look at all three races at Hawke’s Bay in the spring,”
Better Than Ever was allowed to bowl along in front before cutting loose under Hayden Tinsley. They were clear 250 metres from home and had enough in reserve to score by a half neck from the fast-finishing Ransomed (Handsome Ransom) and Spiro (Pyrus).
“He gave me a great feel in his preliminary and his mind was right on the job,” Tinsley said. “He was entitled to knock up a bit toward the end.”
Bred by Graham and Kylie Bax at Blandford Lodge in Matamata, Better Than Ever was purchased at NZ Bloodstock’s 2008 Karaka Premier Sale for $80,000 after being scouted by agent Phil Cataldo. Beginning with Brett McDonald at Cambridge, he trialled twice before heading to Singapore where he quickly earned champion status with Laurie Laxon.
Better Than Ever is owned by Weng Fei and owns a 31-17-4-2 scorecard and earnings the equivalent of AUD 3.10 million. He is by former Arrowfield shuttler French Deputy and is a younger half-brother to the Australian winners Zaju (Snippets), Jellicles (Tale of the Cat) and Boys Will be Boys (Hussonet).
Their dam Songfest has since foaled NZ winner Savasong (Savabeel) and promising Singapore-based gelding Om (Darci Brahma). She has a yearling filly by Medaglia d’Oro and was sent back to NZ by the Bax family to be covered by Pour Moi last year.