Singapore's Burridge back for more at Dubai Carnival
As the man who holds the record for the highest strike rate of 2012, Steven Burridge has a lot to live up to at this year's Dubai World Cup Carnival as he opens his seasonal account this week.
The Singapore-based trainer enjoyed a dream start to his Dubai career last season, achieving a 33.36 per cent strike rate with a string of just four horses. That translates to four wins from 11 runs and becomes all the more impressive when you consider that only three of his horses actually ended up in the winner's enclosure.
Given the level of success he enjoyed while in Dubai last year it is perhaps not unexpected that Burridge has come back for more. What may be surprising, however, is that the Australian former jockey has opted for a completely different raiding party to the one that bought him so much success last term.
Burridge's wins in 2012 came via Dark Matter, Ip Man, who has since been renamed El Padrino after owners were threatened with a lawsuit from people associated with the film of the same name, and handsome old campaigner, Captain Obvious. Yet this season Burridge has opted for Dubai debutants, Benji's Empire, the Irish maiden, Tiger Stripes, the promising Devil's Cut and Freezemaster.
"They are all horses that we thought would go well in Dubai," says Burridge, who rode more than 1,000 winners. "The others did very well for us last season and Captain Obvious went on to race in Japan, but he was getting a bit high in the ratings by the end."
Benji's Empire and Freezemaster both run at the opening Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting on Thursday.
"Benji's Empire has had seven wins for 39 starts and has really started to come good over the last season," Burridge said. "He'd done a few things wrong but over the last 12 months he's come into himself and become really consistent in his racing."
Benji's Empire has won at about five furlongs and at about seven furlongs, and is looking at a race over the minimum trip on Thursday while Freezemaster, a winner at about seven furlongs and a metric mile in Singapore, is likely to line up over about seven furlongs.
Devil's Cut, who gave Burridge his 400th win as a trainer when winning the Fort Canning Park Stakes at about 5 1/2 furlongs of Kranji's Polytrack in September, is set to make his debut at the second Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting on January 17, alongside stablemate, Tiger Stripes.
"Devil's Cut is definitely the one that I'm most looking forward to," Burridge said of his charge who has recorded three wins for five starts between 5 1/2 and six furlongs.
"He's only lightly raced, he ran second on his first start but he didn't jump well and was a really green so we put him away for a few months. When we got him back to the track he won first up and then he won his second start back, so he's an exciting prospect."
Tiger Stripes represents an unknown quantity to Burridge. The horse, which ran into second place on his last two starts and has been placed in Group 2 company in Ireland, flew to Dubai and will join Burridge's yard in Singapore following his Dubai World Cup Carnival campaign.
"This season we are not coming over with proven horses, they are down in the ratings a little bit but we just feel that these are horses that could do well in Dubai," said the trainer, who comes to the Dubai World Cup Carnival on a high having recently claimed the Group 1 Yang Di Pertua Negeri Gold Cup in Penang, Malaysia -- with Hint.
Burridge, who will jet back and forth between Singapore and Dubai during the Dubai World Cup Carnival, is relying on assistant Mick Lockett, who also oversaw his horses in Dubai last season. Jockey Stephen Baster is expected to ride.
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