'The Count' now eyes 3YO crown
Clements' unbeaten star to head for the Singapore Guineas after winning the 3YO Sprint and Classic
Two down, one to go.
Kranji's latest sensation, COUNTOFMONTECRISTO, won the $250,000 Group 3 SIngapore Three-Year-Old Sprint over 1,200m three weeks ago and, yesterday, he beat a strong field in the $350,000 Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1,400m to remain unbeaten in five starts.
The $500,000 Group 1 Singapore Guineas over 1,600m now beckons and a victory on May 14 will give his owner, Joe Giovanni Singh, a feat of owning two 3YO Triple Crown champions.
Six years ago, Singh's Gingerbread Man swept all three legs of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge and is now a successful stallion in Australia.
Labelled by jockey Glen Boss as "a horse they turned into a beast" before his 3YO Sprint victory, Countofmontecristo was attempting 1,400m for the first time yesterday and he saluted just the same.
Second, half a length behind, was the unlucky Could Be Pearls, sporting Horse of the Year Debt Collector's famous colours and was one of trainer Cliff Brown's five runners.
The $9 favourite Jupiter Gold came from a long last to finish third, one-and-a-quarter lengths away.
There was a keen tussle for the lead. Macarthur, Countofmontecristo, Splinter and Golden Thunder were bunched up but Boss quickly eased back the $16 second favourite to fourth.
Splinter soon went ahead and was about half a length ahead of Macarthur at the hafway mark.
A length away came Countofmontecristo, with Sir Isaac creeping up on the inside.
Splinter straightened up from Macarthur. Sir Isaac kept to the shortest route home. Countofmontecristo took the outer run. Could Be Pearls darted up but suddenly ducked inside. Jupiter Gold circled around runners and straighened wide.
Boss punched Countofmontecristo to the front 300m out and plugged on to the line.
Could Be Pearls was a fast second. Jupiter Gold closed in, minus his previous scintillating acceleration, to grab third.
Clements, who had earlier saddled LEON in Race 2 and SPUR ME ON in Race 6, was rapt with his rising star's win and progress.
"He has a great run through the race. He just keeps moving up every time we stepped him up. Yeah, he's just going great," said the trainer.
"We've always felt that getting up over this distance and further is going to be more suitable for him. Obviously, he's a good six-furlong (1,200m) horse and he has done it over seven furlongs (1,400m) today.
"Pedigree-wise and his character, we've always felt that he would get over further so, yeah, we're obviously just rapt over how he has gone up today and happy about his future."
Clements said that Countofmontecristo will run in the Guineas if he pulled up well.
Boss felt the maturity in Countofmontecristo at the parade ring and that the horse went to the barrier like a proper racehorse - "relaxed and every muscle was just in a really good state".
He admitted to pressing the button a bit too early when Michael Rodd brought Sir Isaac up on his inside.
"I've got a bit of respect for that horse and, if he gets a length over me, I might not be able to peg him back, so I pressed the button a bit too early and my bloke just exploded and got there too soon," said Boss.
"It's not like he's near his top. He just thinks the race is over, he has done his job and I could feel he has relaxed underneath me. I knew a horse was coming on the inside but my bloke would never have let him go past him because he would challenge him and get going again.
"So, it was a good learning curve for both of us today.
"The acceleration was very good. Obviously, the topweight (Jupiter Gold) was also very good and will be stronger over the mile but I've no doubt my bloke, when he gets to the mile, he is going to be equally as good."