Inferno rages on in Singapore Guineas
Trainer Brown's latest sensation proves too hot for his eight rivals in $400,000 Group 1 feature
Despite overracing early due to the slow tempo, Inferno blazed the Kranji track on Saturday - in the $400,000 Group 1 Singapore Guineas over 1,600m - to be the undisputed "three-year-old" champion in Singapore.
Trainer Cliff Brown's latest superstar had also won the other leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge - the $250,000 Group 2 Singapore Classic over 1,400m on Aug 30.
But he and the other Southern Hemisphere-bred contenders had turned four on Aug 1, as both races were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
American-bred You Qian Zhuan was the only three-year-old in Saturday's Guineas race, as Northern Hemisphere-bred horses celebrate their birthdays on Jan 1.
By winning the Classic and the Guineas, Inferno earned a $50,000 bonus.
The first leg of the series - the Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint over 1,200m - was abandoned.
With his star quality and impeccable record - seven starts for six wins and a second - Inferno was backed as the $5.30 (for a $5 win bet) favourite. But he ran like one.
There was a little concern when the pace was slow after the jump, resulting in the Barree Stable-owned champion pulling hard. But champion jockey Vlad Duric knew he was on Kranji's next big thing.
He was unperturbed. He steadied the ship to travel comfortably, as Senor Don led from Strong N Powerful.
Sensing the pedestrian pace, jockey Wong Chin Chuen pushed Meryl, the only mare in the race, from the 1,000m mark to overtake Senor Don.
But Meryl was a spent force on straightening. Senor Don regained the lead but was challenged by Strong N Powerful and Big Hearted.
By then, Duric had pulled Inferno to the outside for an unimpeded run. With just a few shakes of the reins, his mount already hit the front at the 300m mark. From there, the race was all over bar the shouting.
Inferno won by 11/2 lengths, easing up. Rocket Star came from last to finish second.
Duric felt the horse was in top condition and it gave him so much confidence.
"They did go very slow in the first 200 to 300 metres, but when Meryl went forward, that really made the race for me," he said. "He dropped his head and relaxed for me. He was in the right spot and he showed his class in the end."
Said Brown: "He did overrace a touch in the first 400m when they slowed the pace. But Vlad did the right thing by popping him off the fence.
"Once he went around the outside, I knew he couldn't lose."
The $400,000 Group 1 Raffles Cup over 1,600m on Oct 10 is now on Inferno's radar. It is the first leg of the Singapore Triple Crown series.