Weight did not stop Debt Collector
Trainer Cliff Brown's champion makes light of 59kg to beat a top field in spine-tingling thriller
They say weight can stop a train, but it certainly did not stop Debt Collector from clinching his 11th victory in a spine-tingling manner yesterday.
Carrying the grandstand at 59kg, he gave weight all round to Kranji's top horses in the $100,000 Class 1 race over 1,400m and he surely needed to be at his super-best to accost his well-treated rivals.
But the 2016 Horse of the Year and last season's Champion Miler and Champion Older Horse slowly but surely clawed his way wide out under regular jockey Michael Rodd to just nab it in the last few strides.
His class and big heart got him to beat the luckless Countofmontecristo by a neck, with a head to Fortune Bowl winner Blizzard. Debt Collector clocked a splendid 1min 21.98sec on the narrow Long Course E.
"He's some horse, Debt Collector. What a horse! We can talk about him all day, he's a beauty," said an excited racecaller Luke Marlow. Indeed, it was absolutely outstanding.
"He means the world, he really does, you know. I mean, as far as racing goes, he's everything, he's a dream to train," said trainer Cliff Brown, looking a bit emotional.
"I look clever but I'm not. He's remarkable, he does it himself. I would like to say how clever I was but I would be completely wrong.
"To do what he did today with 59kg is just incredible, you know. There are very, very good horses there. To give them weight like he did to horses like Countofmontecristo, Elite Invincible (reigning Horse of the Year) and Blizzard - they're all proper horses - he is just amazing."
The Australian trainer they call Group 1 Cliff with his host of successes at the highest level threw some caution to the wind when asked about his champion's future plans.
"He's come back bigger and stronger but we've got a long way to go. Today was a hard run and we've to be careful now and make sure he's okay," said Brown.
Debt Collector has now collected a second and three wins in a row since returning from his beneficial spell in Australia after a not-so-glamorous 2017 season.
Before yesterday, the Barree Stable-owned six-year-old New Zealand-bred won the Raffles Cup over 1,600m and Queen Elizabeth II Cup over 1,800m, both Group 1 features worth $1 million in prize money.
The prolific money-spinner of close to $3 million already served warning of his chances of scoring his first race of 2019 yesterday by winning his trial last Thursday week. It was the first time he won from 17 attempts.
He then did a rousing gallop on Wednesday morning, which was highlighted in The New Paper the following day with the headline "Debt Collector in ratting form".
It was only the conceding-weight issue but The Champion did it in style and anchored my direct quartet pick which paid $518 for a $2 outlay.
Rodd jumped Debt Collector out with the rest but was in no hurry to chase early, preferring to let his mount settle down and relax for the final assault.
Dual Group winner Forever Young led by a length from Elite Invincible as they settled down after racing about 200m. Then came Countofmontecristo, who had a gun run after jumping from pole position and was in receipt of 4.5kg from Debt Collector. Pacing The Count were Affleck and Alibi. Debt Collector was a lonely last, trailing by some 11 lengths off the lead.
Shortly after straightening, jockey Benny Woodworth drove Elite Invincible past Forever Young but could not break clear. Countofmontecristo closed in and hit the front 150 out.
But, on the far outside, Rodd punched Debt Collector to grind home. For a fleeting moment, it looked like he had run out of real estate to catch up, but his $22 chance got up just in time to make Countofmontecristo second-best for the second successive time.
Blizzard, who beat Countofmontecristo in the Fortune Bowl, finished third. Group 2 Chairman's Trophy winner Circuit Land was fourth.
Rodd reckoned he got further back than what he wanted. But, if he had moved up earlier, he would have ended up on the fence. He said he decided to let a couple of horses go and switch to the outside. He was also happy with the fast tempo.
"I always knew I was going to get there. I just had to time it. When you're so wide apart, it just made it a bit harder, especially for him as he could switch off. You just can't believe that he gave them so much weight and could still win like that, you know. He's just remarkable," said the Australian, who rated Debt Collector as one of the best horses he has ridden.