Step By Step (Captain Gerrard – American Morsecode by All Chatter) quickened the pace and walked away with the RM200,000 Malaysia Three-Year-Old Championship Final trophy here today.

The Australian gelding, trained by Johnny Lim, had finished second to D’Great Supreme in the third and final heat in Kuala Lumpur two weeks ago and it was a much-improved Step By Step that lined up in the Final.

Race favourite Relau Star (Captain Sonador – Shovella by Shovhog) was the first to jump in the 10-horse field and was the early leader with Step By Step in close attendance. The latter took over the running at the 1000m and Relau Star was eased back to settle third at the half-way stage where newcomer Char Kway Teow quickly moved up to take second spot.

Step By Step, ridden by Harmeet Singh Gill, led into the straight with Char Kway Teow, obviously in need of the run, shortening strides at this stage.

Relau Star, partnered by Khairil Zulkiflee, went for a gap inside of the leader at the top of the straight and was level with the leader momentarily at the 300m.

But Step By Step raised another effort and began to kick clear at the 200m. Relau Star was not to give up. The pair pulled away from the rest to fight it out, with Step By Step winning by one and a half lengths.

RA Force (O’Reilly – Bronte Walk by Redoute’s Choice), who finished fourth two weeks ago, finished third this time. And the winner of the final heat, D’Great Supreme, lost no marks when he came from a long last early to finish fourth.

Step By Step had raced thrice in Australia for a third and a fourth. He was very impressive in his second start in the country when he made all the running in an Open Maiden event in Kuala Lumpur in May.

It’s the first success by trainer Lim in the Malaysia 3YO Championship which was first staged in 2012 with Colin The Firth being the inaugural winner. Subsequent winners were Ghost Street (2013), Black And White (2014) and Aragorn (2017, with the re-launch of the Championship).

The aim of staging the Malaysian Three-Year-Old Championship is to boost the horse population, making racing more competitive across the board and in feature races. This will in turn generate greater interest and increase the turnover.

With RM500,000 on offer for the championship series, owners will be encouraged to keep bringing in quality young horses into the country.

This year’s series have unearthed a host of promising youngsters who will surely make their marks in the coming months and hopefully years ahead.