(By John Jenkins)

Despite a massive betting drift class galloper Sultan of Swing returned to winning form with a vengeance when he dealt to his open-class rivals in the $35,000 open 1600m race at Te Rapa today. 

The Shaune Ritchie-trained six-year-old was at a $3.80 quote with TAB bookmakers when fixed odds betting opened on the race last week and drifted to $8.50 at race start time. 

Ritchie, whilst confident of a bold run from the horse, was surprised at the horse’s early short odds given the likelihood of very testing track conditions. However he also knew the horse, who had won eight races from 33 previous starts, was nearing his peak again after a sound effort for second over 1600m at Ellerslie a fortnight ago. 

After enjoying a cosy run against the rail in midfield throughout, jockey Jonathan Riddell picked a path through the field to have Sultan Of Swing handily placed to make his challenge one-off the fence at the 300m. He then angled across heels to get the horse in the clear and he finished off strongly to win by 1-3/4 lengths from Aligns With Me, with the early pacemaking He’s Cavalier a length back in third. 

“I actually potted him on the radio this morning, as I thought $3.80 was too short when they opened up but obviously the bookmakers knew better than us,” Ritchie said. 

“I was a little concerned about the track conditions but this is the second time he has come to Te Rapa and handled a slow track. 

“Obviously he likes it here with that sand base.” 

Ritchie had always felt a winning turn was not far away as luck had deserted the Bachelor Duke gelding in his most recent starts. 

“He has been racing pretty well all season,” he said. 

“He’s had big weights and wide runs and obviously the quality of horses he was racing against in the summer was right up there. 

“There’s usually a nice horse coming through that can top him off, like last start, especially when they claim and you are giving them 9kgs. 

“He’s a good genuine horse and a great horse for his owners.” 

Bred and raced by Dominic Li under his IDL Racing banner, Sultan Of Swing has won nine of his 34 starts and more than $269,000, with his victories including the Group 3 J Swap Contractors Sprint (1200m) at Te Rapa last December, beating Magnum and Save The Date.