Adios, Rocket Man
Singapore’s equine legend is heading for retirement in South Africa
The Kranji crowd cheered. But it wasn't a race in progress.
It was Singapore's equine legend Rocket Man emerging for his well-deserved retirement parade straight after Race 6 at the Singapore Racecourse at Kranji yesterday.
Cool, calm and collected, The Champ, who put Singapore on the world racing map when becoming the first locally trained galloper to win an International Group 1 race overseas in the 2011 Dubai Golden Shaheen, strutted his stuff at the parade ring.
The retired superstar had jockey Barend Vorster astride, resplendent in his South African owner Fred Crabbia's famous and distinctive red-and-black racing colours.
The winner of 20 of his 27 starts, including a record four Lion City Cups, then proceeded to the place most familiar to him, the winner's enclosure. His eager fans moved in tandem and then to line the railing on the front porch, many snapping photos or video-taping the occasion with their mobile phones.
Amid all the buzz, Rocket Man was his usual self. After all, he is used to the limelight.
Then came a basket of juicy carrots and Rocket Man walked up to poke his nose on the basket, surrounded by those close to him and other supporters.
"He deserves it," said Shaw, who, fittingly, won the Rocket Man Farewell Stakes with The General after the happy and yet emotional occasion.
"It's a sad day for Singapore to see him go out. But he'll be here till the 15th or 16th (of Dec). If people want to look at him, my stables are open - if the turf club allows them in.
"But, as far as I'm concerned, you know, his name will always be in Singapore history."
Rocket Man, who earned a Singapore record $6.7 million in stakes, will spend his remaining days gambolling in a beach farm in Cape Town, South Africa.