Countofmontecristo takes off like a Jumbo Jet
Clements saddles first and third in $200,000 Group 3 feature
The money was on his stablemate Alibi but COUNTOFMONTECRISTO showed he was just as classy and, in fact classier on the day, in the $200,000 Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy at Kranji yesterday.
But Alibi, winner of the first two legs of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge and jumped as the $17 favourite, ran far from disgraced by finishing a gallant third.
"The Count", who himself was the winner of the first two legs of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge and whose impressive gallop last Tuesday was highlighted in The New Paper, paid $44 for a win.
His juicy odds was probably due to the depth of the 1,400m feature, which also included two Horse of the Year, War Affair and Debt Collector, who showed a returned to form with a storming run to finish second.
Debt Collector won the race last year.
Countofmontecristo and Alibi's regular jockey Glen Boss was back in Australia to attend a good friend's wedding and the rides went to Alan Munro and Manoel Nunes respectively.
If Boss had been around, it would be interesting to see which horse he would have picked.
The Jumbo Jet Trophy race started with a bunch in front before Majestic Moments ended up as the rabbit but soon found company as Countofmontecristo pulled up on his outside after jumping from the outer-most barrier in the field of 13.
Nunes parked Alibi in the box-seat third. War Affair was second-last. Debt Collector saw them all.
Countofmontecristo said goodbye to Majestic Moments turning into the long straight. Alibi loomed up menacingly on his outside.
Australian jockey Damian Browne, flown in to ride $28 third-favourite Elite Excalibur, made a forward move on the inside.
For a fleeting moment, it looked like Alibi would get the measure of Countofmontecristo but his stablemate displayed true grit and tenacity to win by half a length.
Debt Collector flew home from a long last to beat Alibi by a short head for second, with a nose to Elite Excalibur.
The $21 second-favourite Lim's Cruiser was a smack-up fifth.
Michael White, assistant trainer to Michael Clements, who was in South America, was gushing about the stable's new superstar after the race.
"He drew the outside gate, did all the work, probably raced against his natural racing pattern and still fought off some very, very good horses which showed what a top-liner he is," he said.
Countofmontecristo has now won seven of his eight starts, taking his prize money to over $650,000 for Giovanni Stable.
His only blot was his third to Forever Young in the final leg of the 3YO series, the Group 1 Singapore Guineas.
"I mean, in hindsight, we probably shouldn't have run him. He wasn't quite right going into the race," said White.
"That's in the past now and we are looking forward. He's definitely going to the Kranji Mile and on to the Raffles Cup. So, looking forward to it."
The Panasonic Kranji Mile over 1,600m and the Raffles Cup over 1,800m are on Oct 1 and Oct 22 respectively, and both Group 1 races are the first two legs of the Triple Crown series.
White said Countofmontecristo is unlikely to contest the final leg, the Dester Singapore Gold Cup over 2,200m on Nov 12, as it would probably be a big ask on handicap conditions.
Jockey Munro likened Countofmontecristo to a supercar at the post-race interview.
"It was great, it was great to have a really fast car underneath me. He's a good one," said the Englishman.
On the race, he said: "He was too keen actually. He left the gate and everything was good the first 200m. Then, with no cover, he took me on, so he ended over-racing really for 200m. He finally took the lead and he switched off a bit.
"But the horse has got such tactical advantage because once he does that he's up there and then he has got three or four lengths up his sleeves. So, how to catch him?"
Wimbledon unplaced in Group 1 Korea Sprint
Singapore's Wimbledon raced a bit forward as hoped in yesterday's Korean Group 1 Keeneland Korea Sprint over 1,200m in Seoul but faded away to finish unplaced.
The international race was won by Japan's GRACEFUL LEAP with top jockey Yutaka Take astride, beating Korea's Power Blade easily by one-and-three-quarter lengths.
Another Korean runner, Doraonpogyeongseon, finished third, two lengths away, in the field of 15, which also included entries from Hong Kong, whose Lucky Year was the favourite, France and America.
Trainer James Peters was concerned with Wimbledon's draw (10) but had hoped for a forward run to have any chance.
Australian jockey Daniel Moor managed to get Wimbledon in fifth spot, albeit a bit wide, behind the leader Perdido Pomeroy, also from Korea.
But, as the race progressed, it was evident that Wimbledon was all at sea on the deep sand track and he faded away in the straight to beat only a few home.