Eight starts have gone under his hooves since his Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m) triumph in May 2015, but the results were not by a long chalk anything close to his two-year-old and three-year-old heyday when he blitzed his peers to seven wins.
Trainer Laurie Laxon even had a trouble spot with his withers taken care of, but the upturn of fortunes was still not happening until he finally gave a glimpse of his old self in the Group 1 Patron’s Bowl (1600m) in June when he was being hailed the winner halfway up the straight before weakening to a laudable fourth to Well Done.
He then ran in the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (2000m), with the ordinary result we all know (13th to Well Done). Laxon admitted he messed up on that Derby run and has since sworn off any contests beyond the mile for the Oscar Racing Stable-owned gelding.
Taking Affleck to the lead from barrier No 1 was to jockey Danny Beasley the winning move because from that point onwards, the Australian, who boasted the highest strike rate with Affleck (rode him to six of his previous seven wins), was able to dictate terms.
After a smart jump, Spanish Bay (Shafiq Rizuan) was eased off to take the drop on Affleck while Slew Of Lode (Barend Vorster) advanced three wide to take closer order in second place on Affleck’s girth.
The complexion of the race did not change much to the point of turn where Affleck ($19), without warning, snuck away to a sizeable break on his rivals. Spanish Bay had to wait for a few strides before he could come out of his pocket, but even when he did, he seemed to be making heavy weather of it.
Nova Strike (Manoel Nunes) closed off with the fastest sectionals on the outside to chip away at the margin, but Affleck was never going to get beaten, especially with only 53.5kgs on his back, as he kept on gamely to score by one length from Nova Strike with Spanish Bay third another half-a-length away.
The winning time was 1min 21.92secs for the 1400m on the Short Course.
“Like I said before, running him over 2000m was a mistake, and this is more his go,” said Laxon.
“He jumped good and had things his way in front and that went a long way to his win, especially with the barrier rails racing really well.
“He will be going for the Jumbo Jet now.”
The Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m) will be run on September 4 and promises to be an explosive contest with the race having been picked as the racing comeback of three big guns, War Affair, Debt Collector and Laughing Gravy.
A delighted Beasley described Affleck as “the best he’s ever been” since he has been reunited with him this term.
“This is the best he’s been. He is definitely getting his confidence back,” said the Australian hoop.
“Take nothing away from him, it’s true he had no weight on his back and he had a good draw, but he still had to go out there to win the race.
“I think he did it when he won the battle for the lead. Having gate one was advantageous to him and he got right onto it.
“When I let him go, he just went through the line very well. Fingers crossed, he can now go on to bigger and better things.”
With win No 8 now under his belt, Affleck has now brought his stakes earnings past the $930,000 mark for the Oscar Racing Stable.
Listed - East Cape Guineas
G3 - Kings Cup
G2 - Resource Recycling Superstars Championship
G3 - Lamb & Hayward 4&5yo Trotting Championship
G2 - Storer Motors Nz Trotting Oaks