Racing

Rocket Man honoured

Singapore's greatest racehorse gets a race named after him

In line with the naming of races to honour past racing greats such as Jumbo Jet, Saas Fee, Colonial Chief and El Dorado, the Singapore Turf Club has renamed the Kranji Sprint as the Rocket Man Sprint.

Run as the second leg of the Singapore Sprint Series, the Group 3 event over 1,200m, which was actually won by the Singapore champion sprinter in 2009, will be staged as the Group 3 Rocket Man Sprint over 1,200m on March 26.

Arguably the greatest horse to have raced in Singapore, Rocket Man was the most famous local racing brand to have been exported overseas as well.

The son of Viscount bowed out for a well-earned retirement on Dec 4 last year at a farewell ceremony held at Kranji, with an outstanding record of 20 wins, five seconds and one fourth from 27 starts. He amassed more than $6.7 million in stakes, the highest ever amassed by a local racehorse.

Unbeaten in local domestic races - all 17 of them including nine at Group level - the bay gelding tasted defeat only in International Group 1 events, and many times by coming agonisingly close to the supreme glory.

He contested nine of them, finding one better in his first four attempts, before finally etching his name in history in the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen over 1,200m in Meydan in 2011 to become the first Singapore-trained horse to win an International Group 1 event.

Two months later, he added a second one to become the first local sprinter to claim the $1 million Group 1 KrisFlyer International Sprint over 1,200m on his home turf.

In November 2010, Rocket Man won the International Group 2 Cathay Pacific Jockey Club Sprint over 1,200m at Sha Tin in Hong Kong, dead-heating with Hong Kong's One World.

Such international acclaim went a long way in getting Rocket Man regarded as the world's second-highest rated sprinter in the world behind Sacred Kingdom in 2011 and wonder mare Black Caviar in 2012.

Domestically, he will be remembered for having captured the Lion City Cup a record four years on end from 2009 to 2012.

He was also voted Singapore Horse of the Year twice, in 2011 and 2012, and Champion Sprinter four times.

Owned by South African businesman Fred Crabbia, Rocket Man is now spending his remaining days gambolling in a beach farm in Cape Town, South Africa.