By Michael Lee
As one chapter ends, another one opens up for trainer Cliff Brown this week, and then some.
A drenched Brown scurried straight to the sheltered canteen, an area he is seldom seen at, to watch newcomer So You Too go through his third barrier trial under the rain, all in readiness for his Kranji debut.
Just a few minutes earlier, the Australian had to brave the elements to lead out the best horse he has trained in Singapore for one last time – Debt Collector.
The multiple Group 1 winner is entering quarantine at the International Stables before flying two weeks later to Australia where he will hopefully resurrect his racing career under a new handler.
Brown and owners Barree Stable decided to retire Debt Collector after he came back with respiratory distress in the wake of his brave fourth in the Group 1 Kranji Mile won by Southern Legend on May 25. If he makes a full recovery, he will be sent back in work under trainer Jim Conlan on the Mornington Peninsula.
While a tad emotional a golden era has ended, Brown took solace in the fact there was a high likelihood he would see the son of Thorn Park carry those pink sleeves and cap back to glory Down Under.
“Of course I was sad to see him leave the stables, but he left a happy horse. He was full of himself,” said Brown.
“Hopefully, he can race again in Australia.”
The king may have left the building, but it doesn’t mean he was the only one who made the world go round.
While the emergence of another Debt Collector would be down to luck, the legacy in years ahead looks assured.
One example was So You Too (x So You Think), a former six-time winning sprinter from Adelaide, who won his barrier trial in a hold-up style which did bring shades of Debt Collector’s exceptional grandstand finishes.
And this Sunday, Brown will shift his attention to his trio of runners in the first Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, the $175,000 Group 3 Silver Bowl (1400m). The second Leg is the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) on June 30 and the third Leg is the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) on July 21.
While his hopes had been resting mainly on Mister Yeoh, a creditable third to Aramco after being held up for a run in the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) two weeks ago, the second-worst alley in 17 may put him out in the cheap seats now.
“Mister Yeoh has drawn a shocking barrier. It’s not good at all, it’s all in Michael’s hands now,” said Brown.
“This is the second feature race in two weeks (three of his four runners drew wide in the Group 1 Singapore Guineas) that I draw badly. Otherwise, his form is good, he’s maintained his form. .
“Elite Quarteto (x Rock Of Gibraltar) is a new Argentinian horse I’m still getting to know. He’s a five-time winner including in one Group 1 race, and has won up to 2400m: he’ll need 1800m.
“As for What’s New (x Casino Prince), she is well but that will be a big test for her. We’ll see where she is at.
“She has drawn barrier No 1 and I’ve put Raquel Clark on her. Raquel did okay at her first weekend.
“She was a clear leader on the premiership before she came up here. So, she’s like the next Matthew Poon.”
Clark is last year’s Adelaide champion apprentice jockey and is the 10th Dux from Thoroughbred Racing South Australia to spend a few meetings at Kranji. She had her first rides last weekend, but has yet to ride a winner