It’s an Infantry rout at St Regis
2017 Singapore Racing Awards Night
Give yourself a pat on the back.
And, if you're still hoarse from last night's revelry, go ahead and pour yourself another stiff one.
You deserve it. After all, like the rest of us tipsters, pundits and what-have-you, you too would have been spot-on.
And, in this sport called horse racing, that's priceless.
Then again, to use a racing line, Infantry being crowned Horse Of The Year was a napshot. A shoo-in. The "Best Bet".
Sure, there was always that other contender, Gilt Complex, lurking in the wings.
But, in the end, the best horse won. Some might even say it was an Infantry rout at the St Regis.
Unlike Debt Collector, whose reign ended last night without much fanfare, the crowning of the new king was received with the same cheers which the gallant five-year-old must surely by now have become accustomed to.
You know, that roar which rises in decibels as he thunders down the stretch - making the contest unbearable for those he has passed.
Take that race, the Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile on Oct 1.
Infantry was fifth at the turn. But, with 250m left to travel, he sprouted wings and gobbled up the leading pack, much like Usain Bolt might bid farewell to a clutch of weekend joggers along the East Coast Park.
More than anything else, that awesome lung-busting drive to the line probably sealed the deal as far as the voting panel was concerned.
No arguments there. After all, through the year, Infantry, who was also voted Champion Four-Year-Old and Champion Miler, has been the "nice" story for us, scribes.
We feel very glad because we are Thai owners. Infantry is very lucky to our stable. He is very versatile. He can sprint and stay. These are the traits of a good horse. Preecha Chaisirinon of Kajorn Petch Racing No. 2 Stable, owner of 2017 Horse of the Year Infantry
He also captured the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby, the Group 2 Merlion Trophy and the Group 3 JBBA Moonbeam Vase.
On breeding and genetics, he should not have been so good. Then again, most horses are like items from Ikea. There are bits and pieces that have to be assembled correctly.
So kudos to trainer Alwin Tan. By painstakingly working his magic, he turned a sow's ear into a silk purse.
So it was, last night at the oppulent ballroom of the St Regis, the Association Of Racehorse Trainers of Singapore put up a show which allowed the glam, the glitterati and that gaggle of horsemen to get away from the sawdust and liniment of the stables and have the time of their already interesting lives.
Like the Academy Awards, which honours the best in motion pictures, our Singapore Racing Awards is where we honour the best in that racey business - man, horse, centaur - while bringing the curtain down on yet another great year.
And, thanks to our equine stars, it was a season packed with stories which, years down the road, will be regurgitated and shared with our grandkids.
So, we remembered horses like Be Bee, who picked up the award for Best Two-Year-Old.
And Countofmontecristo, who claimed the prize for the Champion Three-Year-Old.
Not forgetting Group 1 Lion City Cup winner Lim's Cruiser and Nova Swiss, whose feats on the track didn't go unnoticed, claiming the Champion Sprinter and Champion Polytrack Horse awards respectively.
Then, of course, there was Gilt Complex, who completed the rare Group 1 double in the Raffles Cup and the Dester Singapore Gold Cup.
While missing out on the Horse Of The Year honours, his connections collected three trophies - Champion Older Horse, Champion Stayer and Most Improved Horse.
All said, collectively, the winners gave the game theatre and divine madness.
Indeed, it is because of them that racing remains outside the realms of industry. If it were, it would feature in the business section of this newspaper.
And it would have the warmth of banking and the traditions of the stock market. Instead, it has become a beautiful sport and the thing which elevates it from dull commerce is the horse.
So, last night we saluted them. Not just the array of champions like our Horse of the Year, Infantry and those before him, but every racehorse with a beating heart.
2017 roll of honour
HORSE OF THE YEAR
CHAMPION OLDER HORSE
CHAMPION POLYTRACK HORSE
MOST IMPROVED HORSE
RACING MEDIA (ENGLISH)
THOMAS WOOD (Singapore Turf Club Racing Broadcaster)
RACING MEDIA (CHINESE)
LIU JINCAI (Chief Racing Editor of Racing Guide)
MARK WALKER, 87 winners
VLAD DURIC, 83 winners
CHAMPION APPRENTICE JOCKEY
WONG CHIN CHUEN, 30 winners
LEADING OWNER BY NUMBER OF WINS
LIM'S STABLE, 33
LEADING OWNER BY STAKES WON
LIM'S STABLE, $2,005,561