Racing

Countofmontecristo and Jupiter Gold grab the spotlight

Stars light up trackwork from Kranji

Like two young prizefighters posturing before squaring off for a junior heavyweight crown, JUPITER GOLD and COUNTOFMONTECRISTO squared off in their own pre-fight ritual yesterday morning.

The stage was the track at the Singapore Racecourse and the time? Just after dawn.

In separate gallops, the two likely favourites for Sunday's $500,000 Singapore Guineas strutted their stuff and flexed the muscles, much to the delight of clockers and the curious at trackside.

With both contenders down to their "fighting weight" and looking like they were ready to go, it was hard to say who drew the most "oohs and ahhs".

So, if there was to be a verdict, I'd make it a draw.

Jupiter Gold had race jockey Alan Munro on the reins when clocking 35.6sec for the 600m after loosening up with a round of cantering. He didn't just look good. He looked immaculate.

From Hideyuki Takaoka's yard, the three-year-old rig had Galaxy Express as a galloping companion.

As for the Countofmontecristo, he looked relaxed when running the distance in 42.6sec. Glen Boss will be doing the steering on Sunday and was in the saddle yesterday.

Back to Jupiter Gold, you could say he was unlucky in the second leg of the series when he finished third behind "The Count". That, after not having any favours over the 1,400m trip.

But, as we all know, he is better than that so expect him to be motoring home at the business end of Sunday's 1,600m event.

So, the $500,000 question. Is he in good enough condition to take home the prize? Yes. But there is always that stumbling block in the form of Countofmontecristo.

Unbeaten in six, if this were in the days of yore, bards would be writing songs and singing of his exploits.

But, good as he is, it will all come to nought if he gets beaten on Sunday.

Still, one cannot help but marvel at his accomplishments and of things to come.

His work on the training track has been spot-on and trainer Michael Clements and his stable staff will be hard pressed to produce him looking any fitter than he is right now.

I reckon, the backroom work has been done. The rough edges smoothened out and the polish has gone on.

All that's left to be seen is his ability to handle the mile.

This is his shot at greatness. Will he be up to it?

Well, opportunity has no great value without the talent to capitalise on it. And, as we have seen, in "The Count", that is not in short supply.