No roughies in this Raffles Cup
Aramaayo, Countofmontecristo and Minister light up the training track
With nine trainers having runners, no-one holds a monopoly in Saturday's big race - the $400,000 Raffles Cup.
If anything, it gives the Group 1 race a bright complexion and a razor-sharp feel.
Even yesterday, on the training track, when more than half the Cup candidates were sent out for work, there was a sense of anticipation in the air.
When the dust had settled, runners from Mark Walker, Shane Baertschiger and Lee Freedman's yard stood out as most impressive.
They were Countofmontecristo, Aramaayo and Minister respectively.
Of the trio, it could be said that Countofmontecristo - as is normally the case - was the head-turner of the lot.
With Louis-Philippe Beuzelin on board, the "Count" breezed over the 600m in 36sec on the turf track.
A beaten favourite in the $1 million Group 1 Kranji Mile, in which he was obliged to race wide for most of the trip, he again found himself in third spot at his latest outing.
That was a high-class race on Sept 12. Sent off as the $15 second pick in the 1,600m event, he could not muster enough over the concluding stages. He had to settle for a minor prize behind Mr Malek and stablemate Yulong Edition.
Trainer Mark Walker has had three weeks to get his charge all primed and polished for this assignment.
You can bet he will parade like the champ that he is.
However, Aramaayo and Minister will beg to differ.
And they will have every reason to be optimistic. On their workouts, they are serious contenders for top honours.
Aramaayo worked well, clocking 38.3sec for 600m, paced by Gentlemen Agreement. He had Matthew Kellady on the reins.
As for Minister, he had A'Isisuhairi Kasim in the saddle when asked to sprint over the 600m in 38.9sec.
Outside the top four in just two of his eight Kranji starts, Aramaayo is being gently sculptured into something dazzling.
Just turned five, this son of Poet's Voice made racegoers sit up and take notice when he took the Kranji Mile.
He beat some of his Raffles Cup rivals like Top Knight, Countofmontecristo, Sun Marshal and Mr Clint, among others.
It was a commanding performance and a second big-race victory in the space of two months would not surprise.
Freedman will have other ideas - and why not?
Minister is an up-and-coming stable star. He has already cashed in close to $200,000 from just six Kranji starts. You could say he has hardly yet begun.
Two of his three wins have been over the Raffles Cup trip. He has already rubbed shoulders with the big boys, taking third behind Top Knight in last month's Singapore Derby.
Freedman has three other runners in the Cup. They are Mr Clint, Sun Marshal and Loyalty Man. They are capable, but Minister could be the ace in his hand.
Mr Clint, the winner of last year's Singapore Gold Cup, was taken out by apprentice jockey Iskandar Rosman for a 600m spin in 38.2.
Sun Marshal, who beat Mr Clint in last year's Singapore Derby, just cantered. Loyalty Man galloped in 36.7 with Juan Paul van der Merwe up.