Owners Dennis and Gael Evans have been making a habit of winning feature races in Singapore and they added to their growing trophy cabinet when Ato took out the Group 3 $200,000 Saas Fee Stakes over 1400m on Sunday.
Just a week ago Flax, carrying the Newbury Racing Stable colours, took out the Group 1 Raffles Cup over 1800m, while Ato has also taken this year the International Group 1 KrisFlyer International Sprint as well at the Group 1 Patron’s Bowl.
Ridden by Barend Vorster, Ato, the $8 favourite, scored a commanding one-and-a-quarter length victory from King Empire (Joao Moreira) with Excavator (Jose Verenzuela) a neck away third. The winning time was 1 min 21.96 secs.
“I never get bored of this,” said Evans. “It’s always great winning any race, but its extra special winning a feature race.
“Hopefully this win sets him up well for Hong Kong and he can run well for Singapore.”
Ato is one of three runners – including Super Easy and Mr Big – that could be representing Singapore in the Longines Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin in December.
Vorster had Ato quickly out of the barriers before electing to take a sit on the entire when Hot Gold (Danny Beasley), which was initially caught wide, pressed forward to take the lead.
Nandowra (Alan Munro) and Excavator were next in line and there was little change until the hometurn.
Beasley tried to up the ante on Hot Gold but Ato was right on his outside and shortly after Vorster took him to the lead.
Passing the 400m Ato had set-up a winnable advantage but Vorster wasn’t going to let him rest on his laurels and pushed the five-year-old out to the line.
Trainer Patrick Shaw said Ato was a “versatile” horse who has done whatever is asked of him wh
ether that be over 1200m, 1400m or 1600m.
“He has done us so proud this horse,” said Shaw. “He has done whatever we have asked of him.
“Today’s race was a nice race for him and it was a nice handicap.
“Being a sound horse we’ll look at giving him one more run before Hong Kong and keep him ticking over and being a colt we’ll keep him racing otherwise he can get away from us.
“Hopefully he can run into a place in Hong Kong and maybe even win it.
“I’m sure he’ll run well.”
Vorster said he was prepared “to do all” on the entire but was happy when Hot Gold came around to take up the pace.
“He relaxed beautifully once Danny came around us and went to the lead,” said Vorster.
“I didn’t want them closing me up on the outside, so I came over the leaders heels to sit on the outside and give myself plenty of room.
“I would have liked to have got toed into the straight a bit further, but I was mindful of the fact that I was giving weight to the other runners and I didn’t want to get into a fight and give him the chance to think about what he’s doing.
“He’s feeling as well as he ever has and being a colt and still having the zest for racing is certainly a good sign.
“It’s also good for Dennis and Gael to pick up another feature race win. They have put a lot into the sport and deserve all the success they have been getting of late.”
A five-year-old South African-bred entire by Royal Academy from the Lyphard’s Wish mare Another Legend, Ato has now won nine of his 25 starts with a further nine minor placings and has accumulated almost $1.7 million in prizemoney.