Jupiter Gold banks on weight advantage
The clash between Horse of the Year Debt Collector and a rising star
Trainer Hideyuki Takaoka knew all along tonight's Open Stakes race over 1,600m was the target of Kranji's colossus, Debt Collector, but he still kept his rising star JUPITER GOLD on course for the head-on collision.
The unassuming Japanese handler was as usual not seeing the clash as a giant-killing bid but, if luck is on his side, he will grab it with both hands.
"After his last win (in a Class 3 race over the mile), I saw that 1,600m race on March 3 on the programme, and it suited him perfectly," said Takaoka.
"I then heard Cliff (Brown) would run Debt Collector in the same race. But it's a handicap race and I thought that would give us an advantage."
As it turned out, Jupiter Gold was given a light weight of 49kg while Debt Collector was slapped with 58kg, but regular partner Alan Munro might not be able to keep the pull in weights to that level.
"Alan will probably ride at 51kg, so that's 2kg less in the weight difference," said Takaoka.
"I didn't even think about putting an apprentice on as I prefer to stick with a jockey who knows him and Alan is such an experienced jockey.
"Look, it's Debt Collector, he's a top-class horse. On ratings, he is about 15kg higher than Jupiter Gold.
"So, whether it's 7kg or 5kg, or less, it's still in his favour, but it also gives us a bit of an advantage, a bit of a fighting chance.
"To be honest, I'm not sure if 7kg will be enough to make up the difference as, on paper, such ratings don't always show the actual difference in class on the tracks.
"I only know that my horse has pulled up well since his last run. His next target is the second leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge, and that race on Friday was just a prep run.
"It's just that Debt Collector happens to be on the way. I think he will be in the same position, that is at the rear and will start to make his move from the 400m.
Debt Collector will still be very hard to beat but we can only try our best. Win or lose, he is going straight to the second leg of the 3YO series.Trainer Hideyuki Takaoka, on Jupiter Gold
"Hopefully, Jupiter Gold will be in front then, and can quicken up before him. With the light weight, I'm hoping he will go even faster inside the last 200m.
"Debt Collector will still be very hard to beat but we can only try our best."
Takaoka's main objective for the Kaz Hosaka-owned rig rolls around on April 14, the Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1,400m, and ultimately the last leg a month later on May 14, the Group 1 Singapore Guineas over 1,600m.
None of the legs of the famed series figures on Takaoka's roll of honour in 16 years of training at Kranji.
"Win or lose, he is going straight to the second leg of the 3YO series," said Takaoka.
"He doesn't need any other run. The 1,200m leg (Sprint) is too short for him and I decided to skip it."
Jupiter Gold was a winner of two legs of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series last year, taking out the first over 1,000m and the next over 1,100m.
He has since scored over longer trips in open company, from 1,200m to 1,600m, backing up his trainer's belief he was always meant to get better over more ground.