Monday, July 12, 2010

2010 Emirates Singapore Derby

by Su-Ann Khaw

The sound of a race field galloping past the finishing post. Definitely a sound that I never grow tired of and always, without doubt brings a rush of excitement through my veins.

Singapore racing has truly upped the ante over the past few years. With horses such as Golden Shaheen runner up, Rocket Man and recently retired 2009 Singapore Derby winner Jolie Shinju making their mark Internationally, we can only expect more to come from Kranji racecourse.

As I arrived at Kranji ten minutes before the first race, I saw an array of beautiful hats and fascinators reminding me of a feature Autumn/Spring raceday in Australia. I walked by the mounting yard, situated at the back of the course (similar to Moonee Valley in Victoria), catching a glimpse of horses parading and a big smile broke on my face. It always does every time I see a thoroughbred.

The Corporate Boxes are situated on the 4th floor and is in perfect sight of the finishing post, most of the mounting yard action is watched on flat screen TVs as we eagerly wait for the runners to head out.

12 races (30-40 minutes between races) in a day seems a large number considering back over in Australia it’s around 7 to 9 races in a day. What I find great about the races at Kranji is how quickly the jockeys return to scale and payouts are cleared immediately.

I didn’t think I would be making any trips to the mounting yard but ended up heading down (in the scorching 35 degrees Celsius weather) for one of the earlier races before the Derby.

All I can say is, I cannot blame any of the horses for throwing a little buck here and there. It was very warm outside and as I watched the 2YOs parading and some playing up, I carried out conversations with my eyes darting around to make sure I wasn’t in the line of bucking fire!

By the 6th race I returned back to the Corporate Boxes where the AC is cranked up on full blast and the 2YOs heading out to the barriers. Four more races to go till the Derby!

Next to the SIA Cup and KrisFlyer Sprint, the G1 Singapore Derby is the feature race of the year with SG $1150000 prizemoney attached to the race for the top 4YO stayers in the country. Singapore Racing’s prizemoney has increased significantly over the years attracting owners from around the world, in particular Australia and New Zealand.

This year’s Derby field of 16 reflect pedigrees from both NH and SH. Escamonda (Alpha Plus ex Wise Girl) bred in Argentina, My Drumbeat (Montjeu ex Maskaya) and Tarankali (Selkirk ex Tarakala) both bred in Ireland flying the flag for NH bred Derby contenders. According to the local form guide, My Drumbeat (6th) was purchased for 650,000 Euros as an entire and has since been gelded as of Feb 2010.

On course favourite, New Zealand bred Race Ahead (Al Akbar ex Mertie Love) was the pick of Singapore racing fans at Kranji. Although despite his last two starts seemed disappointing on form; running 8th to scratched Derby contender Ghozi (Catbird ex Finito Fling) and 10th to Intercept (Zerpour ex Haughty Miss) in G1 1600m Patron’s Bowl.

Trainer, Bruce Marsh made changes in Race Ahead’s gear and added blinkers to the gelding and evidently, in the last 400m of the race with ears pinned back Race Ahead kicked away from Powerful Ruler (5th) with Australian bred mare New Rose Wood (Love A Dane ex Western Explorer) and Intercept (3rd) at his heels.

Much credit must be given to the Desmond Koh trained New Rose Wood for making up exceptional ground in the last 400m but it was Race Ahead’s day with a brilliant ride by NZ jockey Opie Bosson on board.

As the field is heading out for the last race and the sun is beginning to set. Some of us feeling very contented with the race day, after all – ‘winners are grinners!’ Others gripping on to faith in the Racing Gods for a ‘get out of jail’ card with the last in dire hope for a roughie pick to win!

I returned home feeling contented from what I believe was a wonderful day of racing at Kranji and expect many more to come from the Singapore Turf Club on the rise.

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