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From a young unraced three-year-old, Countofmontecristo has made a meteoric rise to reach the pinnacle of Group glory in four unbeaten runs at Kranji on Sunday.
The son of Echoes Of Heaven certainly sent connections into seventh heaven with the way he has rapidly soared from Restricted Maiden winner to stand as the undisputed best three-year-old – at least over six furlongs – for now with a gutsy victory in the first Leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge, the Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m).
Hearts skipped a beat in the Singapore camp when Debt Collector started to improve in his customary style at the half-mile of the US$6 million Group 1 Dubai Turf (1800m) on Saturday,
But the last 300m was the reality check they had long feared as it soon became clear he could not quite sustain the run as he does back home, eventually plodding on to ninth place just under 10 lengths off the winner Vivlos.
The Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan got off to an inauspicious note for Singapore after its first runner Quechua finished out of the placings in the US$1 million Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup (3200m) on Saturday.
The Ricardo Le Grange-trained Argentinian-bred travelled in an ideal spot three pairs back for jockey Barend Vorster, but when race-leader Big Orange (Frankie Dettori) upped the tempo at the 800m, the first signals of distress flared up.
Michael Rodd’s warm-up ride in the US$1 million Group 2 Godolphin Mile (1600m) turned out to be more of an early mud bath than anything else for the Kanji-based Australian jockey.
Rodd’s main assignment at the Dubai World Cup meeting is the ride on Singapore Horse of the Year Debt Collector in the US$6 million Group 1 Dubai Turf (1800m) 3 ¾ hours later. As a bonus, he picked up the ride on the South Korean horse Triple Nine in the opening event on the nine-race programme to the world’s richest single raceday.
Less than a year ago, little-known trainer Chad Summers and his father were only registered as the owners of Mind Your Biscuits, but things were about to change very quickly.
Overnight, the 33-year-old took over Robert Falcone Jr as his trainer after he obtained his trainer’s licence at Gulfstream Park, and like a dream come true, he is now in Dubai in the global spotlight with the Posse four-year-old one of 14 runners in the US$2 million Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (1200m).
Star three-year-old Nova Swiss tasted his first defeat in the Merlion Trophy last start, but appears well placed to return to the winner's stall in this evening's Group 3 Singapore 3YO Sprint.
Unable to repel the challenge of his stablemate Infantry in the feature sprint, Nova Swiss would have lost few admirers when finishing a narrow second.
Champion jockey Joao Moreira has always treasured the friendship ties he has made in Singapore, probably even made stronger after he left for Hong Kong in 2013.
One of them is with Australian trainer Cliff Brown, who supplied the Brazilian ace with numerous winning rides during his five wonder years at Kranji. Horses like Zac Spirit, What Now and Divided House spring to mind.
Jockey Vlad Duric’s Frday riding double aboard Grand Cross and Poseidon saw him tie with fellow Australian Michael Rodd on 18 winners at the top of the ladder.
Duric was booked for five rides, but following the withdrawal of Macavity, he still took home two wins and two seconds.
Trainer James Peters reckoned Grand Cross needed a couple of runs to warm up after the blinkered-gelding scored pretty comfortably in the $80,000 Class 3 race over 1200m on Friday night.
The four-year-old son of Fastnet Rock has now won three races, all with blinkers on. As with his previous wins, it seems Grand Cross gets going with more practice.
Singapore racing fans will be glued to their TV sets for two Dubai World Cup races on Saturday night, but they may want to know there is actually a third race they should look out for.
Quechua will be the first to step out to fly the Singapore flag in the US$1 million Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup (3200m) at 8.50pm local time before Singapore Horse of the Year Debt Collector gets his turn 2hr 40minutes later in the US$6 million Group 1 Dubai Turf (1800m).
Hong Kong trainer Caspar Fownes is confident Dundonnell is peaking at the right time for the US$2 million Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (1200m) on dirt on Saturday.
The Englishman who is famous in Singapore for having won three KrisFlyer International Sprints (twice with Lucky Nine in 2013 and 2014, and Green Birdie in 2010) has yet to break through in Dubai, though.
Florent Geroux is a name only a fistful of Singapore racegoers may have heard of or seen on a racecard.
There is a slim chance those who follow Hong Kong racing may remember him taking part in last December’s Longines International Jockeys’ Championship, even if he did not win any race. Household names like Joao Moreira, Hugh Bowman (the winner) or Zac Purton tend to hog the limelight – and their names are easier to pronounce.
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