Perfect draw, says Duric
Champion jockey picks gate 9 for Emirates Singapore Derby favourite Elite Invincible
By the time it was jockey Vlad Duric's turn to pick the barrier position for the Mark Walker-trained Emirates Singapore Derby favourite Elite Invincible, there were only three outer draws left out from a total of 17.
With luck, the reigning champion jockey picked the only single-digit draw remaining - No. 9, not the best but also not the worst. It was the middle lane, so to speak.
The last two numbers drawn were No. 12 and No. 14, which went to Elite Invincible's stablemate Kingsman and Aotearoa respectively.
Yesterday's Post Position Draw for the $1.15 million Group 1 feature over 1,800m, the third richest race in Singapore after the $1.5 million invitational Kranji Mile over 1,600m and the $1.35 million Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup over 2,000m, was held at Level 3 Atrium of Raffles City Shopping Centre.
While an inner draw would be more than ideal, so as to save precious ground without having to cross in after the jump, Duric was nonchalant about barrier 9, even calling it "perfect really".
"I wanted in the middle somewhere. I actually was thinking before the draw that I wouldn't mind a little speed to my inside, with Lim's Regard and Nepean there. You know, I could follow those horses beautifully and get a nice position, so it's a perfect barrier really for me. Yeah, I'm happy with it," said the high-riding Australian.
Lim's Regard, who is Walker's third runner, drew gate 6 and the Shane Baertschiger-trained Nepean will jump from barrier 5.
French jockey Ryan Curatolo's eyes lit up after the Emirates stewardess flashed his barrier card for probable front-runner Lim's Regard. He said: "As long as it's not on the outside, gate 6 will be good for me."
But, on paper, stablemate Elite Invincible looks the horse they all have to beat.
Duric has partnered Elite Invincible to win the first two legs of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge - the $500,000 Group 2 Stewards' Cup over 1,400m from gate 4 and the $1 million Group 1 Giovanni Racing Charity Bowl over 1,600m from barrier 2. He placed Elite Invincible handily in third to fourth spot early in both races before making his run in the straight to win.
Victory in Sunday's Derby, the final leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge Series, will earn Elite Invincible's owner, Elite Performance Stable, a $150,000 bonus.
There is no denying Elite Invincible has the class to capture the triple crown and Duric could not be happier with his mount's fitness going into the race but hopes rain would stay away.
"I'm really happy with the horse. He's going really well. I worked him yesterday morning and he's in great order, so it just comes down to the day, have a bit of luck. Hopefully, the rain stays away because he likes a bit of dry track. So, fingers crossed and hope everything turns out well in the end."
Michael Clements, the other trainer with three Derby candidates, was happy with the barrier draws for Countofmontecristo (No. 4), Za'eem (No. 8) and Only Win (No. 16).
"Countofmontecristo, very good barrier 4. Obviously, he'll be able to run his usual race. Za'eem also has a good barrier and I think, if the track is wet, he may get a better chance. He likes it wet," said Clements.
"Only Win, well, he's got an outside barrier but it's okay for him because he does gets back. His last run wasn't one of his greatest. He got to the inside which didn't seem to suit him, so actually I'm quite happy he has drawn an outside barrier."
Well, with the luck of the draw over, now it will be the luck of the race on Sunday.
EMIRATES SINGAPORE DERBY BARRIER DRAW
1 Countofmontecristo (4)
2 Jupiter Gold (1)
3 Elite Invincible (9)
4 Kingsman (12)
5 Only Win (16)
6 Lim’s Regard (6)
7 Sky Rocket (15)
8 Lim’s Magic (7)
9 Mr Exchequer (11)
10 Nepean (5)
11 Yulong Xiong Hu (3)
12 Za’Eem (8)
13 Yulong Honor (17)
14 Aotearoa (14)
15 Claudia’s Beauty (13)
16 Gold City (2)
17 Magnificent Gold (10)
*Barrier number in brackets.