‘The Count’ deserves a first Group 1 success
Highest-rated Queen Elizabeth II Cup contender always gives of his best
If there is a prize for honesty and consistency, Countofmontecristo is one of Kranji's leading contenders.
Since his debut season in 2017, when he won his first five races, the bay New Zealand-bred rarely runs a bad race.
From 33 starts, he has 10 wins, six seconds and seven thirds.
He has won the lion's share of the feature races - three Group 2s and two Group 3s - and snared multiple placings.
Unfortunately, Group 1 success has eluded him. He came close several times, including a half-length second to Infantry in the 2017 Panasonic Kranji Mile. All he needs is some luck to break the jinx.
Tomorrow could be the day when good fortune comes calling in the $400,000 Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup.
The 1,800m classic, inaugurated in 1972 to commemorate the British monarch's state visit to Singapore, is like a repeat of Oct 10's $400,000 Group 1 Raffles Cup over 1,600m.
Most of the runners are vying for top glory again, but I reckon the same five contenders will fight it out again.
They are Aramaayo, Sun Marshal, Countofmontecristo, Minister - the first four in the Raffles Cup- and Top Knight, who finished ninth despite being the $12 favourite.
Trainer Lee Freedman's Sun Marshal and Minister appeared headed for a one-two finish when Aramaayo dashed up on the inside to beat Sun Marshal by a head.
Countofmontecristo flew on the outside for third, just a nose away. A few more strides could have seen him on top.
Minister held on for fourth.
Top Knight, the Group 1 Singapore Derby winner over the 1,800m trip, did not produce his customary burst, but trainer Michael Clements expects his charge to redeem himself tomorrow.
I think he can.
But I also think Countofmontecristo will appreciate the extra 200m more than the others tomorrow, although Aramaayo has gone beyond 2,000m (but did not win) in Australia.
You can expect "The Count", as he is popularly known, to come creeping up at the top of the straight under new jockey Benny Woodworth, who is replacing the suspended Louis-Philippe Beuzelin.
Just hope that Woodworth would not make the same mistake as Beuzelin by hitting the front too soon in the $1 million Group 1 Kranji Mile, which resulted in "The Count" finishing third behind Aramaayo.
Now trained by three-time champion Mark Walker, who took over the horse from Clements after the Kranji Mile, "The Count" richly deserves to taste his first Group 1 success.
All told, it will be a great race.