The most amazing feeling, says owner
Hong Kong-based Australian businessman David Boehm was second-time lucky last night when his horse, DAN EXCEL, went one better in Singapore's richest race, the $3 million Singapore Airlines International Cup.
Last year, his Irish-bred gelding lost to fellow John Moore-trained stablemate Military Attack, who had to settle for third last night under Magic Man Joao Moreira.
Dan Excel, ridden by Australian sensation Tommy Berry, who won the $1.35 million Longines Singapore Gold Cup last November on Tropaios, who ran 11th of 12 last night, beat Smoking Sun of France by one-and-three-quarter lengths in the 2,000m International Group 1 event in a new course record of 1min 59.07sec.
Boehm, 57, was beaming when he went up to lead his champion.
"It hasn't quite sunk in yet, but the euphoria of winning an International Group 1 race, especially in Singapore because Singapore is one of my favourite cities in the world," said Boehm, a "stayer" who has taken part in marathons all over the world, including Singapore.
"And the great thing is that Hong Kong has won it again and what can I say about my horse? He broke the track record in Singapore tonight, so all credit to the horse, the trainer and the jockey.'"
Then he added with a laugh: "It has still not sunk in yet, so ask me again tomorrow."
But what went through his mind when Dan Excel took the lead at the top of the straight?
"Well, actually, I couldnt really watch, because I was listening to my wife, who was singing, 'Come on, Dan, come on, Dan' and she was hitting my leg harder and harder.
"So I knew he was coming forward and I finally looked, and he was already a length clear.
"So it was just the most amazing feeling that you could imagine. He has won an International Group 1 race in Hong Kong, but to win in another country for Hong Kong is just amazing."
"Well, tonight is not going to be much sleep. We will be partying in Singapore's best bar tonight," said Boehm.
"And thank you very much to the Singapore Turf Club for putting this wonderful event. It's been a great night and I can only say 'thank you' to all in Singapore, and it's wonderful for Hong Kong to have won again."
Berry: A win I will never forget
A teary-eyed jockey Tommy Berry had his late twin brother Nathan, who recently passed away from a rare brain condition after riding for two weeks in Singapore in March, uppermost in his thoughts as he stepped up for the post-race interview yesterday.
"This win here in Singapore is very important, as this is where Nathan last rode and he really enjoyed himself here," said the young Australian jockey, who is really establishing himself as a jockey of great occasions wherever he goes (he won the Group 1 Longines Singapore Gold Cup (2,200m) aboard Tropaios last November and also boasts multiple Group 1 wins with Designs Of Rome in Hong Kong where he is currently licensed).
"There was a big butterfly that I saw in the mounting yard and he followed me on the way to the gates. Nathan was with me tonight.
"This horse is not so young anymore, but he always toughs it out.
"After his last run when he was caught four wide and still ran second to Variety Club in the Champions Mile, I told John he should go to Singapore, and he told me he was and I was riding him.
"I'm so thankful to John and the whole team for the opportunity.
"The race panned out beautifully from the inside draw for him and he really raced like a good horse.
"I just let him cruise to the lead at the top of the straight.
"It's a win I won't forget."