When I first agreed to write a brief article for Matt I wasn’t really sure what to say or when to say it – all I knew for certain was that I had been lucky enough to be invited by the Singapore Turf Club to attend their prestigious race meeting on Sunday 19th May so here I am, sat in the Regent Hotel and waiting eagerly for race day, writes Sean Trivass. Singapore (Kranji) may not be a place you even associate with racing, but their top contests are high class events with stunning prize money - the Cup is worth $3 million, which is about half of Frankel’s career earnings, to put things in to perspective.
The course is as beautiful as any I have ever seen (flowers and greenery everywhere), the stands spacious, and the prices ridiculously cheap in comparison to the UK – in a Country where most things are a lot more expensive. A fiver will get you in to the track, three quid will buy you a beer, and the food courts start at $1 (about 50p) and work their way upwards, providing something for everyone, however deep their pockets, and with no snobbery involved.
Back to the horses themselves and trying to compare form from varying continents is a real challenge as I am sure you can imagine, so being you average lazy journo I spent all my time listening to others conversations including jockeys, owners and assistant trainers before reaching my (probably inaccurate) conclusions. Firstly, we had the matter of the Post Position Draw on Thursday lunchtime, a mini party held in the plushest bookmakers you will ever see (holds hundreds and with a round bar in the middle), which was a bit over the top in some peoples eyes, but with the track so much tighter than you see in England (it makes Chester look like the sweeping fields of Newmarket!), a low draw is a major bonus, especially in the sprint.
Current UK bookmakers favourite Bel Sprinter was drawn ten of eleven which shows how much they know (I can’t say he won’t win but at the prices I would rather lay than play), and connections were pretty disappointed as were those of Emerald Hill (11), and Dasher Go Go (9), with the word on the street that five or lower is the best place to start. Looking for a British or even European angle, Dux Scholar used to be trained by Sir Michael Stoute and is well drawn in the one stall, while the Irish raid with Balmont Mast who finished runner up in Dubai last time out and must have a squeak if repeating that run for trainer Ed Lynam. Add a decent draw in the two stall, and the fact that Johnny Murtagh flies in to ride, and you can see why I am sorely tempted to back him each way at odds around the 16/1 mark as I write which looks like the value call.
As for the big race, we are triple handed geographically at least with Red Cadeaux (Ed Dunlop), Mull Of Killough (Jane Chapple-Hyam), and Hunter’s Light (Saeed Bin Suroor), but can they take the prize money home? Hunter’s Light has to turn around a nine and a half length beating in the Dubai World Cup with Red Cadeaux which is a big ask, yet I ma told he ran flat that day though I need a bit more proof he is back to his old self before parting with my cash. Mull Of Killough looked an improved animal when winning the Earl Of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket but this I a big ask (and I am happy to cross him off my list), leaving us with Red Cadeaux as perhaps our best chance?
He is a globe trotter so should handle the humidity but I am worried that he is stepping back from two miles last time out to a mile and a quarter here and there is a fear that connections wonder if he needs more of a test of stamina these days? As I write Pastorius is the market leader after winning what looked like a decent Prix Ganay last time out, but being German owned and bred, I am wary that this ground could be a touch too fast for him, which leads me to my selection, 4/1 shot Military Attack. Trained in Hong Kong by John Moore, he has own his last three races and impressed me when taking the QEII in Hong Kong last time out with a devastating burst of acceleration when needed, and if he repeats that form from the favoured four stall, he will take some stopping.
Finally, and at the risk of turning in to a travel brochure, I cannot recommend Singapore enough as a racing (or holiday) destination. Clean, warm, and with the friendliest people you could wish to meet, I am hoping to be invited back next year (and no, it isn’t a freebie) to make the most of this wonderful Country once again – if you ever get the chance, I suggest you do the same?
Sean Trivass is a freelance sports journalist and attended the Singapore races as a guest of the Singapore Turf Club.