The final race on last Friday’s Chinese New Year race card was the fitting stage for the notorious bridesmaid Tigidig Tigidig to once and for all shake off his unwanted tag.
On an evening filled with Chinese superstitions, the six-year-old son of War Pass was well backed to make it two wins on end – despite cult figure Matthew Poon having his one and only ride in the event. It was a vow of confidence from punters on a horse who had won just three races from 29 starts - but finished runner-up on no less than 13 occasions.
“I like to think of it as rolling the same number on a dice at the casino over and over again – he was trying but just finding one horse better each time,” a relieved trainer Vincent Malady explained.
While it’s not a game of casino craps, the gelding’s career has certainly been a profitable one purchased as a modestly performed galloper from the Gai Waterhouse stable for just $12,000 in early 2014. Having won at his second start in Malady’s care, it would’ve be hard to script the 12 months that followed. In his subsequent nine starts there were eight second placings, which led to his second ‘victory’ at Geelong in May 2015, ironically though it was a dead-heat. By the statistics, he went home a winner but in terms of margin and prizemoney he once again had to share the spoils.
If that wasn’t enough teasing from the racing gods to his 30 plus connections, most of who reside in Geelong, the biggest blow would come four starts later (and after another second placing). Six days into the 2016 calendar year Tigidig Tigidig finally saluted the judge in first position at Sandown and as outright winner! Even more satisfyingly – a metropolitan winner. But it was too good to be true – the horse’s jockey weighed in 0.1 kilograms over the advised riding weight and the horse was disqualified with no prizemoney and bets placed not refunded.
“After he got disqualified at Sandown the owners expressed they wanted to get (another) metropolitan win with the horse and we set out a program specifically to achieve that goal,” 39-year-old Malady said.
Subsequently, after placings at three metropolitan tracks including Sandown, Caulfield and The Valley – Tigidig Tigidig couldn’t gain a start on his hometown Cup Day at Geelong, which would also have been classified as a metropolitan success.
As the saying goes, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet” and thankfully the wind changed course. Prior to Christmas at start 29, Tigidig Tigidig would salute at Kilmore in Country Victoria with a photo on the wall to prove it did really happen. All good things really do come in pairs and after some meticulous planning by his trainer, last Friday night delivered the knockout punch, leading all the way to a dominant 2¼ length victory in the William Hill Handicap (1200m).
“Maybe something has triggered with him but to be honest I never panicked – he is very genuine and consistent to say the least so let’s hope he can come back and win again,” said Malady.
For a smaller stable of 17, Malady knows the trip all too well from Geelong down the M1 as he also trains ‘Valley specialist’ Appalachian Annie. Let’s hope a trip to the winner’s stall with Tigidig Tigidig also becomes all too familiar!