Racing

It's the Merlion Trophy for 'Darci'

Reigning champion jockey Vlad Duric set to retain the ride on the runaway winner

A 10-out-of-10 ride from leading jockey Vlad Duric saw Distinctive Darci blow away his rivals in the $125,000 Kranji Stakes A race over 1,000m on Sunday.

Dropped in a rearward spot by the Australian rider, Distinctive Darci smoked his pipe, away from the hustle and bustle up front, gearing up for his assault only as the field neared the 500m mark.

After setting a blistering pace from the get-go, Constant Justice (Craig Grylls) tried to stage another rally upon cornering but Al Green (Glen Boss), who was never far away, was in a winning mood as he drew on level terms.

But the two of them had not reckoned with the superior turn of foot of $15 favourite Distinctive Darci, who, once set in full flight, came sailing down the outside to go and post arguably the most impressive of his eight wins.

Al Green stuck on valiantly for second place, one-and-a-half-length away.

Raise No Doubt (Nooresh Juglall) showed that his last-start win at long odds was no fluke when he had to come across heels to deny Constant Justice third place by a head, another length away.

At the post-race interview, winning trainer Mark Walker said that the Dato Terry Lee-owned Distinctive Darci would next run in the $500,000 Group 2 Merlion Trophy over 1,200m on April 27. It is the second leg of the Singapore Sprint Series and the only one of the three legs run on the Polytrack.

"He is going for the Merlion Trophy. On that run, you'd think he'd be a good chance," said the Kiwi handler.

"It was a good thing he was drawn out. With the rain, the outside part was probably the better ground.

"Vlad timed his run to perfection. It was a fantastic win for Dato Lee and his daughter Teresa."

After scoring earlier aboard Boy Wonder, Duric was bringing home a double to share the riding honours with John Powell (Dinghu Mountain and Montaigne) and apprentice jockey Troy See (Muscular Captain and Maximus) and, incidentally, reclaim his yellow jersey, which was momentarily lost to arch-rival Michael Rodd following his hat-trick of wins on Friday night.

While jockeys are known to keep their options open ahead of big races, the 2017 Singapore champion jockey was more than happy to commit to the Darci Brahma four-year-old as his Merlion Trophy ride.

"I was booked to ride him in the Merlion Trophy a while ago. Even if there were other opportunities, I'm keen to stay with him," said Duric.

"I was lucky that from the wide draw, I got Spanish Bay's back. Once I peeled him out to the outside, he just exploded away.

"For some reason, I was a bit concerned about the 1,000m. I don't know why. Probably because he is more of an 1,100m-1,200m horse, but yes, he will get the Merlion Trophy up to his ears."

Distinctive Darci has now amassed more than $580,000 in prize money for Dato Lee's Fairdeal Stable.

HORSE RACING