Better luck next year for the Singapore brigade
While Singapore flopped in the Singapore Airlines International Cup, filling the last four spots with Johnny Guitar, City Lad, Tropaios and Wild Geese respectively, it fared well in the KrisFlyer International Sprint.
Trainer Cliff Brown's Lion City Cup winner Zac Spirit was the local hope's flag-bearer but he became his own nemesis on race night.
He became hard to be loaded into his barrier, seeping precious energy. Still, he ran a gallant third behind Hong Kong's Lucky Nine.
Said jockey Alan Munro: "He got upset at the start before the race and that didn't help.
"In the circumstances, he's run well but I'm a bit disappointed as, on form, he's got the beating of the second horse."
True, the runner-up, Singapore's Emperor Max had lost twice to Zac Spirit in his last two starts.
But Emperor Max ran his heart out for jockey Zac Purton and gave Kranji fans plenty to shout about. He looked a possibility at the top of the straight but the winner was in a class of his own.
Said trainer Stephen Gray: "This feels like winning the race. It's mixed emotions, but yet so exciting. Zac rode him perfectly, but Lucky Nine was just too good.
"He's done everything we have asked of him. Just three weeks ago, everybody was pretty down after he pulled up so tired from his race.
"But we hand-walked him for weeks just to change things up. We walked and walked him and then we put the saddle back on him and he started to pick up again."
Said Purton: "He ran exceptionally well. He turned the tables on the best local horse but Lucky Nine is really world class and we couldn't match him."
Singapore's other runners finished fourth (Captain Obvious), sixth (El Padrino), seventh (Slew Of Lode) and eighth (Goal Keeper) in the nine-horse field.
Hong Kong's Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Sterling City, who started as the $12 favourite, finished fifth. Ireland's Balmont Mast, who ran fourth last year, ended up last this time.
Hopefully, Zac Spirit and Emperor Max, as well as a few other exciting finds, may give Singapore better chance next year.
Overall, the Singapore International Racing Carnival, which started from April 26 and culminated with the running of the SIA Cup and KrisFlyer, was a success.
Said the Singapore Turf Club's vice president (corporate services) Simon Leong yesterday: "We are pleased that the Singapore Racing International Festival 2014 had concluded with resounding success with its fringe activities and the all-time favourite Turf Belles.
"Last night, we delivered two most exciting world-class races in the Singapore Airlines International Cup and the KrisFlyer International Sprint, watched and cheered by millions around the world, and showcased the best of Singapore racing and hospitality to all our guests who joined us over the weekend."
This feels like winning the race. It’s mixed emotions, but yet so exciting. Zac rode him perfectly, but Lucky Nine was just too good.
- Trainer Stephen Gray, on KrisFlyer runner-up Emperor Max