When finishing second is still Gold
Who says no one remembers the runner-up in the Singapore Gold Cup? We do
The 2,200m race is sapping.
It takes its toll on trainer, jockey and horse.
But any stayer worth his salt will eat up the distance and still come back - hardly blowing and wanting more.
For the trainers of these thoroughbreds, and we've got some of the best here at Kranji, they'll tell you saddling a Gold Cup winner is a triumph of patience.
But no matter how meticulous and even, microscopic the preparation, something could come up and bite where it hurts.
Yes, a trainer may carry the poise of a president, but losing a race like the Gold Cup can make him feel lower than a snake's belly.
Then we have the jockeys.
It's not for nothing that they are - pound for pound - the toughest athletes in sport.
In a race like this where there is weaving and bobbing, slashing and urging, panic and derring-do, he must - in a little over two minutes - become a master of multi-tasking.
He must have a telepathic understanding with a 500kg animal and make him do brave and improbable things.
We accept that racing is an unforgiving sport. It spits out losers like a chaff-cutter. So perhaps it's time to spare a thought for those who have been placed second. Those stout-hearted racers who burst their lungs only to be quickly forgotten.
And their jockeys and trainers who have come within a whisker - only to have had victory snatched away on an occasion as important as this one.
So, who goes into this honourable list?
I'll take you back 10 years. Then, there was a horse called Itmaybeyou.
Trained by Brian Dean, he wasn't star. His breeding suggested he shouldn't be so good but, in the Gold Cup of 2007, when ridden by Ronnie Stewart, he was as gritty as the great ones - weaving his way through the field, only to lose out to Recast.
The following year, Saimee Jumaat, then a champion jockey, came agonisingly close on the Charles Leck-trained Chevron. The judges called for a print, pored over it before giving the race to El Dorado.
The great horse would win again the next year, shattering the dreams of jockey Vlad Duric, trainer Stephen Gray and the gritty Given Vision.
In 2010, the cheers would ring out for Risky Business and we quickly forgot how a $222 outsider named Tell A Tale nearly won bragging rights to the big one. Alas, and like we have seen so often, that day the urchin failed to beat the aristocrat.
The next year, Lizarre was running on empty in the stretch but sheer instinct and his indomitable spirit took him to the withers of El Dorado. Try as he did, he couldn't get the job done.
Barend Vorster, who rode Lizarre, would again taste defeat in 2012 and 2013 on Maurice Utrillo and Orakei Korako. What could have been a hat-trick of wins turned out to be gut-wrenching disappointment.
In 2014, Patrick Shaw had three runners in the race and, while Corey Brown would celebrate on the winner Quechua, Nooresh Juglall would leave the racecourse with a heavy heart - beaten on the fearless Emperor's Banquet.
Who can forget Fastnet Dragon? His was the hard-luck story of the 2015 edition.
Saimee Jumaat, then a champion jockey, came agonisingly close on the Charles Leck-trained Chevron (left, No. 1) . The judges called for a print, pored over it before giving the race to El Dorado.
Trained by Leslie Khoo and ridden by Alan Munro, the $22 equal-favourite was the darling of the crowd. Easily recognisable in his pink blinkers, he hit the front 250m out, only to be swamped by Cooptado. He would lose out by a nostril.
Then last year, Time Odyssey - as resolute and audacious as they come - couldn't reel back the front-running Bahana. His day in the sun was clouded in misery.
Come Sunday, another name will be added to that list of Gold Cup winners.
What a thrill it will be for owner, trainer, jockey, syce and horse. You'll see them posing for pictures in front of the grandstand.
Join in and raise a cheer. That done, and this time however, look to your right.
There you will see the beaten brigade being led back - unceremoniously - to their stables.
They will be sweating and blowing and heaving from the exertion.
And they'll want nothing more than a good hose down, a juicy carrot and a nice long drink.
Rise from your seat and give them all, especially the one who placed second, a round of applause.
Blow him a kiss and pump your fist for a job well done. Because, like the winner of the 2017 Dester Singapore Gold Cup, he too would have run the race of his life.