By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Booked to head overseas a couple of weeks ago, smart miler Countofmontecristo will in the end stay put at Kranji.
After reshuffling his options, owner Joe Singh has come back on his decision to send his charge to Australia to continue his racing career.
Singh was of the opinion that Countofmontecristo faced limited opportunities in Singapore, given there was to him, a shortage of races that suited the Michael Clements-trained five-year-old son of Echoes Of Heaven, especially on the Short Course.
The original plan was to send Countofmontecristo to one of Singh’s trainers in Australia, the Newcastle-based Kris Lees, to target some feature races in Melbourne and Perth, and eventually come back to Kranji for another crack at the Group 1 Kranji Mile, in which he finished fifth to Southern Legend at his last start on May 25.
He had already entered quarantine (last Thursday) with 2016 Singapore Horse of the Year Debt Collector, who will then be travelling solo to Australia in a few weeks’ time.
“After seeing the latest Singapore racing programme for August and September races, I noticed that the Raffles Cup will be run over 1600m on the Short Course,” explained Singh about his about-face.
“I have then decided to pull Count back from quarantine to race in the Raffles Cup. The short course is what suits him as he is a race-forward type of horse.
“He will still keep Debt Collector company in quarantine for another week and will return to Mike Clements’ stable on June 20 to start race preparation.”
Countofmontecristo has been a story of “close but no cigar” at the elite level. The winner of the first two Legs of the 2017 Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge boasts a smart record of seven wins and eight placings for close to $1.35 million in stakes earnings, but has, however, not saluted for more than 21 months – since September 10, 2017 in the Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m on Long Course).