Racing

Debt Collector confirms Dubai race

Debt Collector confirms participation in Group 1 Dubai Turf over 1,800m at Meydan

It was touch-and-go for a while, but Singapore Horse of the Year DEBT COLLECTOR is a definite starter in the US$6 million (S$8.46 million) Group 1 Dubai Turf over 1,800m at Meydan on March 25.

Trainer Cliff Brown just returned from a reconnaissance visit to the Dubai racecourse and was happy with what he saw.

The Australian handler obviously flew back with many of his questions answered, and after another thorough discussion with the owners, Barree Stable, they decided that the trip was worth a gamble.

Brown had long pencilled in the Dubai race, previously known as the Dubai Duty Free, as an ideal target for the three-time Singapore Group 1 winner, and duly nominated him early this year.

He, however, stipulated that the middle-distance galloper had to perform to his satisfaction at home before booking his ticket.

Things were right on course when he won easily in his racing comeback in a 1,400m race on Feb 10, but Brown had one more hurdle for him to clear, an Open race over 1,600m three weeks later on March 3.

But he ran third to Jupiter Gold - and the Dubai bubble was pricked - but not yet burst.

FIRST DEFEAT

Debt Collector had tasted his first defeat after an unbeaten streak of eight wins that began in November 2015, but it was rather the post-race report from the vet which really threw the Dubai trip up in the air.

He was found to have returned with respiratory distress, which probably explained why he suddenly hit a brickwall after he was seen to be coasting effortlessly in the straight.

Brown and connections had to reassess their plans but after Debt Collector pulled up well, had given no untoward signs in his work, and most importantly, had received the clearance from the vets, they saw their initial 50/50 assessment soar to around the 75 per cent mark. Brown's recce made it 100 per cent.

"I' never been to Dubai and wanted to take a look for myself and see what the conditions were like, mainly the track and the training facilities," said Brown.

"I was happy with what I saw, and we decided to run him after all.

"Yes, we did have a rethink after his last race, but we waited a little to see how he pulled up and he's recovered from that respiratory distress. The horse would tell us himself.

"I'm happy with his condition and that's the race we wanted to have a crack at. We wouldn't know if he can measure up if we stayed at home, and that's why we rolled the dice and went for it. He is leaving at the end of this week, together with Ricardo's (Le Grange) horse (Quechua)."

The Derby-Gold Cup winner is entered in the US$1 million Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup over 3,200m.

Jockey Michael Rodd was thrilled to learn it was all systems go. The Australian jockey had been riding Debt Collector in his work after his last run, and thought it would have been a waste if he didn't go.

"There's nothing wrong with him. He's back in mint condition and it's the right time to test him.

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