Michael Lee Singapore Turf Club
Singapore superstar Debt Collector is heading back to Australia for another spell, but unlike the last one he did in 2018, there is no coming back this time.
Kranji’s highest-rated horse (122 points) pulled up with respiratory distress after running fourth to Hong Kong’s Southern Legend in the Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) on Saturday.
Connections gathered around for a discussion shortly after and decided there and then their champion galloper had run his last race in Singapore, bringing up a premature end to a glittering career of 12 wins and four placings in 24 starts, including five at Group 1 level (he also claimed two Group 2s and one Group 3) and more than $3.1 million in prizemoney. He also claimed the Singapore Horse of the Year honours in 2016.
Trainer Cliff Brown in consultation with Mr Glenn Whittenbury, principal owner of Victorian outfit Barree Racing Stable, who was on hand to watch the Kranji Mile run, have made the joint decision to send the Thorn Park six-year-old to Mornington trainer Jim Conlan’s Pinecliff Farm.
The one-way ticket spells of a different approach this time.
In 2018, after his overall 2017 performances took a bit of a nosedive, Debt Collector took a five-month break at the Newhaven Farm in the Hunter Valley before returning to Singapore in May to resume his stellar career. The result was a resounding success: He went on to add four more wins, including two at Group 1 level, the Raffles Cup (1600m) and Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m) to his collection.
The wind issues are more serious this time, but Debt Collector might not be lost to racing – yet. However, if he does recover and returns to racing, it will be in Australia.
“Debt Collector returned with respiratory distress after the Kranji Mile. It’s the second time he’s had that, but it was quite significant this time,” said Brown.
“We were losing the battle with him and we are sending him home – for good this time. He’s not coming back.
“He’s been a wonderful horse to us, but he wasn’t his best on Saturday. He still ran the quickest last 400m, but he wasn’t the same horse, and Michael (Rodd) said the same thing.
“We scoped him up straight after the run and we the made the decision he’ll go to Jim Conlan at his Pinecliff farm and rest, and then come into work with Jim.
“We’ll see how he comes along. If he tells us he doesn’t want to be a racehorse anymore, then we’ll be happy to retire him as he fully deserves it.”
Brown has already booked Debt Collector’s flight to Australia.
“He goes into pre-export quarantine on June 6 and will leave the same month,” said the Australian conditioner.
“It’s extremely disappointing it’s ended this way as he was a once-in-a-lifetime horse, but his well-being comes first.
“It’s sad news, but it could have been a far worse day at the races on Saturday. Most importantly, he’s safe and well.”