Racing

Jockey with a mission

Machado will ride the horse he knows well in Group 3 Ultima El Dorado Classic

After four unplaced starts at Kranji - all in Group races - the connections of Elite Quarteto have decided to fly in the jockey who knows the former Grade 1 winner best - Luan Machado.

The Kentucky-based Brazilian, who was aboard the horse known as Quarteto De Cordas in his four wins, including the Grade 1 Grande Premio Brasil over 2,400m last year, will partner Elite Performance Stable's acquisition in the $150,000 Group 3 Ultima El Dorado Classic over 2,000m on Sept 20.

He will also ride the stable's Elite Excalibur in the $800,000 Group 1 Raffles Cup over 1,600m on Sept 22.

Machado, 25, received a call from Elite Performance Stable's racing manager Sennett Ho asking about the horse he knows very well and asked if he would like to ride the horse in Singapore.

"Of course, I was keen to come and ride in Singapore. I've always heard it was a good place to ride. I know Joao Moreira and Manoel Nunes rode there with great success," said the rider.

"I've never met Mr Sennett Ho. He called me out of nowhere to ask about preliminary stuff on Quarteto De Cordas - as I know him - like what's the best position to ride him for his best performances.

"He usually likes to be in the middle, but that depends on the pace. He's actually a very easy horse to ride.

"It's only later in the chat that Mr Ho asked me if I was interested to ride him in Singapore. This horse has been amazing to me because that'll be the second time he has changed my life.

"When I won the Group 1 race on him in Brazil last year in June, trainers and owners in America asked me to come and ride at Turfway Park (Kentucky) in November. They told me I could do good there."

Before coming to Singapore and being placed under trainer Cliff Brown's care, Elite Quarteto already raced twice in Elite's blue-and-white colours in America.

But the horse did not cut much ice, running unplaced in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf over 2,400m, won by world champion mare Enable at Churchill Downs last November, and the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale over 1,800m at Gulfstream Park in December.

Machado was not aboard at his US raids when transferred from Brazilian trainer Luiz Esteves to Louisville-based Australian trainer Ian Wilkes. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr did the steering job.

In Kranji, Elite Quarteto ran in the Group 1 Singapore Derby over 1,800m at his penultimate start, but never made his presence felt. He finished a distant ninth to Sun Marshal with Noh Senari astride.

At his last start, when partnered by Michael Rodd, he improved marginally for a seventh place, just a tick under five lengths off I'm Incredible in the Group 3 Committee's Prize over 1,600m on Aug 18.

The race that had always been his primary target is now next on his agenda, the third leg of the Singapore Triple Crown series - the $1 million Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup over 2,000m on Nov 10.

The El Dorado Classic has always been the main lead-up to the blue riband of the local turf.

"I'm really looking forward to the experience in Singapore. I may not know the track but I know Quarteto very well and I hope that will help me in the big race," said Machado, who has chalked up 300 winners in Brazil in eight years.

Now residing in Lexington, he won the leading jockey title at the Turfway Park winter/spring meet with 35 winners from 188 rides, including an epic five-timer on Valentine's Day.

HORSE RACING