Newly-crowned sprint champion Aramco sent for rehab in Malaysia

Right after Aramco picked up a well-deserved Singapore champion sprinter award last Thursday, he was walking straight onto a float bound for Malaysia the next day.

Aramco winning the CLASS 1
Aramco winning the CLASS 1 Picture: Singapore Turf Club

The word "retirement" has not quite been uttered for the Magic Albert seven-year-old, though, with connections treating the change in scenery more like a rehabilitation to treat a leg injury that has been bothering him for seven months.

It was just pure coincidence that the Malaysian trip occurred straight after the Singapore Racing Appreciation Awards, said trainer Shane Baertschiger. The decision to 'temporarily move' Aramco had been made one month before the good news of his anointment as the king of Kranji sprint came through.

Win or lose, he was booked to go, with Baertschiger still hoping the bracing air of Cameron Highlands can help resurrect his racing career.

"He broke down after his last race (Class 1 race over 1200m which he won with Vlad Duric up). I think it happened at the 100m - when he hit the front, he just stopped," said Baertschiger.

"But sheer courage still saw him win the race, which goes to show what a champion he was. He did the tendon running down the back of his left pastern, which is not very common.

"We thought he'd come right but it was taking a long time to heal. He was still not right to start racing after seven months, so the owner and I decided to send him up to Sandy Lines' spelling station for rehabilitation.

"He's now in quarantine up there for two weeks. Obviously, I will be keeping in touch with Sandy and get regular updates on how he progresses once he settles in there.

"We hope we can still sort his issues. If that happens, then the owner and I will discuss if we bring him back to the races here."

Aramco gave the Australian handler his first Group 1 win when he took out the Lion City Cup (1200m) last year in May. The former Team Hawkes-trained and Sheikh Khalifa al Maktoum-owned sprinter was known as Mawahibb in Melbourne where he boasted one win at Moonee Valley over 1200m before he was imported to Singapore in 2016.

Victorious on debut at Class 4 level on November 11, 2016, Aramco went on to compile a sterling record of 10 wins for the Aramco Stable at Kranji, including another 'black type' in the Group 3 JBBA Rocket Man Sprint (1200m) in 2018, and amassed more than $1.1 million in prizemoney.

In Aramco, Baertschiger has certainly lost a valuable asset in the elite ranks this season, but while he can still count on recently-unveiled Singapore Horse of the Year I'm Incredible (who is part-owned by the Aramco Stable), he might have found a worthy replacement in another horse racing in the same red and green lightning bolt colours, Aramaayo.

Unlike Aramco, that heir apparent's strongest suit is over more ground. Known as Aramayo when trained in Sydney by James Cummings, the Poet's Voice four-year-old is a blue-blooded former Godolphin galloper who opened his Kranji account at his third start on Sunday, in the RDA Cup, a Class 2 race over 1400m, and is now being aimed at the Group 3 Silver Bowl (1400m) on February 29 and eventually the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) on April 18.

The Silver Bowl and Singapore Derby are the first and third Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge respectively, while the middle pin is the Group 2 Stewards' Cup (1600m), which is due on March 20.

Singapore Turf Club