Come Sunday, it's Boss and the 'Beast'
Big-race jockey Glen Boss is not one to shy away from using colourful terms when talking up his horses.
The Australian Hall of Fame jockey has described the evolution of the unbeaten COUNTOFMONTECRISTO, his ride in the $250,000 Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint, as a horse who has grown into a "beast".
Boss, who rode the gelding at his early barrier trials, teamed up with the son of Echoes Of Heaven at only the last two of his three wins. He would have probably established a perfect record if not for a suspension incurred at the time he made his racing debut on Jan 13.
Mohd Zaki was booked by owner Joe Singh to keep the saddle warm for Boss, and the Singaporean jockey did what we all know he does best - he steered his mount to an all-the-way win.
Whether Countofmontecristo can run in all three Legs of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge - in other words, the remaining two legs, the Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1,400m on Apr 14 and the Group 1 Singapore Guineas over 1,600m on May 14 - remains to be seen.
"He's flying. They have turned him from a horse into a beast," Boss said. "He has kept improving with every run and you could see it at his last win."
After an impressive debut when he simply broke the hearts of his rivals in a Polytrack race over 1,200m on Jan 13, Countofmontecristo's next win - his first under Boss's guidance - in a Novice race over 1,200m on turf was a lot more toned down. He led again, but looked vulnerable when Sir Isaac (Michael Rodd) came breathing down his neck at the 300m along the rails.
With the likes of Nova Missile and Deimos in his way at his third start in a Graduation race over 1,200m on turf two weeks later, the confidence was flagging a touch, especially when barrier No. 11 came up, but fans rallied to send him as the $11 favourite. He duly obliged with a scintillating performance.
The much-hyped two-horse race between him and Deimos did take place when the pair skipped clear from the rest, but the score was settled more quickly than thought. Countofmontecristo extended better to put a two-length space on Deimos (Rodd), who will again figure among his opponents on Sunday.
"He's got quite an engine and he easily beat Deimos at his last start," said Boss. "(Trainer) Michael Clements has done a great job to keep him ticking over. He had some easy work this morning and I couldn't be happier with that last piece of work.
"It's the race we have aimed for him and we'll know how good a three-year-old he really is on Sunday."