The longer the better for Mr Black Back

While trainer Tim Fitzsimmons thinks Mr Black Back will be better over longer, Sunday’s $50,000 Class 4 race over 1400m looks ideal to get the former Australia-based runner into the winner’s circle at just his second start in Singapore.

Trainer: Tim Fitzsimmons
Trainer: Tim Fitzsimmons Picture: Singapore Turf Club

Although unplaced in last year's Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) when raced as Maranoa for the powerful Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott training partnership, the Snitzel five-year-old was bred for the staying trips as his dam – Faint Perfume – had a Group 1 win (2009 Crown Oaks over 2500m) on her impressive CV.

Two wins over 1400m and 1600m, as well as three seconds from Mr Black Back 's six starts in Australia suggest that he has plenty to offer in Singapore. After he ran third on his Kranji debut over 1200m on the Polytrack on September 10, Fitzsimmons is confident of a very good showing over a more suitable seven furlongs on Sunday.

"Yes, he's bred to stay but this race looks perfect for him second-up," said Fitzsimmons on Thursday.

"It wasn't ideal to have his debut on the Poly(track) but we didn't have a lot of choice with the turf taking a break from racing.

"He missed the kick too, which didn't help, but I was really happy with the way he got to the line."

The Black House Stable-owned gelding started as the even-money favourite three weeks ago, but was beaten two-and-a-half lengths behind Knight's Gambit - but according to his Australian handler, he has trained on and is ready to show his best.

"We really wanted to get him to the track – it was a bit rushed - so he will improve for the run, that's for sure," continued Fitzsimmons.

"His subsequent trial (second to stablemate Illustrious in trial no. 3 on September 23) was good and (jockey) Vlad (Duric) is very happy with him.

"The extra 200m and turf is definitely in his favour. He will run well."

Should things go his way, Mr Black Back would be a sneaky chance for a tilt at the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) to be run on November 19.

"Obviously we bought him – through Josh McLoughlan of Jig Bloodstock – for races like the Gold Cup, as 2000m will be his best trip," said Fitzsimmons.

"He's only lightly-raced and he's really well-bred, so he's an exciting horse for the future.

"We probably need to win one or two races to get into Gold Cup contention this year but regardless, he will be a good horse for the feature races early next year – the (Group 1) Raffles Cup (1600m) and the (Group 1) Kranji Mile - and the owners have plenty to look forward to."

Elsewhere on the card, Fitzsimmons has another 11 horses competing in eight races. Apart from Mr Black Back, he thinks Teardrops, who lines up in the $50,000 Class 4 Division 2 race over 1200m, has a very good chance of adding another win to the stable's 2022 total (49).

"She's (Teardrops) been a bit stiff not to win yet," said Fitzsimmons of the Argentinean-bred mare that has finished second four times and ran third once in six starts in Singapore.

"The saddle slipped last start and she was held up in the straight and only beaten a short head (behind Opunake on September 3). So yeah, unlucky.

"But we learned a bit from that run. (Jockey) Manoel (Nunes) will ride her quieter so as not to get exposed early and there looks enough pace from the likes of Cash Cove to do just that.

"It's a hot race but she will go very close."

Fitzsimmons also fancies the chances of The Star in the $20,000 Maiden race over 1200m and last-start winner, Ace Sovereign in the $50,000 Class 4 race over 1600m; both on the Polytrack.

"Vlad has done a lot of work re-educating The Star after his last run (June 11)," he said.

"He (The Star) really hit the line well at a recent trial (finished third to The Jun in trial no. 4 on September 23) after being ridden quiet early.

"(Jockey) Jimmy (Wong Chin Chuen) will ride him the same on Sunday - Vlad can't make the weight - and he should be strong late."

The trainer puts Ace Sovereign's last-start success down to a positive plan and will stick to that formula on Sunday.

"We planned to ride Ace Sovereign very positively throughout at his last start (Class 4 race over 1600m on September 3), as he can be one-paced and then lose touch with the leaders when they sprint.

"It worked, so expect the same again and he will show his best."

Like trainer Donna Logan, Fitzsimmons is reluctant to place much significance on the 'ding-dong' battle of the 2022 trainer's premiership (Logan leads by just one with 50 wins for the season), but understands that it is a talking point.

"Sure, I'd love to win it," said Fitzsimmons of the premiership gong.

"But Donna is a top trainer. To finish second to her stable wouldn't be a disgrace, but I know it gives the journalists and the punters something to write and talk about.

"And it doesn't change the way we (the stable) go about things on a week-to-week basis.

"We try to give our horses every chance and if we happen to win it (the premiership) – great – but it's not a priority for me."

Singapore Turf Club