After four days of being entertained by the Singapore Turf Club the time has arrived for the real work to begin from a crowded media room at Kranji racecourse on Singapore International Airlines Cup night, and the not insignificant matter of three million Singapore Dollars in prize money (or slightly over £1,500,000) for the big one – and another half a million pounds for the Krisflyer Sprint on top.
As mentioned previously, the word International in the title could hardly be more apt with challengers from the USA, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Ireland all pot hunting and I am hoping as I write that we are in for a treat (or two with any luck).
Although hardly nailing my colours to any mast I made my selections earlier in the week and sat back in anticipation, though not before watching the effervescent opening ceremony that included the beautiful Turf Belles, giant puppets, and some unusual rap/disco/local music hybrid that the crowd seemed happy to sway along to.
As for the racing, well the slowly expanding crowd were more than happy to see jockey Joao Moreira back in the saddle after he flew in from Hong Kong (he used to be top class here until snapped up to ride at Sha Tin and Happy Valley), and in a Tote only pool it came as no great surprise to see his opening mount sent off as favorite in the 3.00pm local time.
After an ovation of sorts saddling up (they were that pleased to see him back), imagine the deafening roar as he hit the front on board These Streets to win going away, landing the odds along with thousands of bets, and leaving my ears still ringing from the cheers as he unsaddled.
Continuing rain changed the going by race two (and any delusions I may have had about finding a winner were also washed away), but the atmosphere was kept bubbling over when the favourites seemed to keep on winning until I backed them, naturally.
Waiting patiently for the International contests the betting for the sprint told us precious little as defending champion Lucky Nine and Hong Kong challenger Sterling City flip flopped on the Tote boards, but in the end the champ kept his crown and did so with style. “A Super training performance” was how jockey Brett Prebble summed it up which seems about right to me, though not even the horse’s biggest fans could have expected such a wide margin victory which reminded us all of the benefit of a good draw.
One big race to go and $3,000,000 up for grabs but all the talk was about whether or not Military Attack could get past his shocking draw and buck the trend seen so far on the night, though to be fair in the lesser races it had already been done.
Also looking for back to back wins, the Hong Kong trained challenger had the ten stall to overcome and anyone who felt that wasn’t a concern needed help either psychologically or financially after he was well beaten by stable mate Dan Excel, who was second last year and had the better draw this season.
Odds of 5/1 or thereabouts look good now (we can all be wise after the event), but they were always more realistic than the odds on favourite, and I freely confess to being a turncoat at the price, and leaving the favourite well alone for an each way bet on runner up Smoking Sun for France – my one and only correct decision of the evening!
So how can I round up a week or so away racing in Singapore in just a few final words I wonder? Exotic, exciting, entertaining, efficient all spring to mind – one of the most beautiful countries providing top quality International racing and hospitality second to none – and if that doesn’t get me invited back, nothing will…
Sean Trivass was a guest of the Singapore Turf Club and would like to thank them for their hospitality and assistance.