By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Cliff Brown said he was a bad trainer of two-year-olds, with the few he saddled not having etched lasting memories in his mind.
The Australian trainer, who has won practically all before him at Kranji since his relocation from Victoria in 2008, has indeed been less of a potent force in two-year-old series.
He did test the waters with a handful in the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series or the now-defunct Juvenile Championship, but the decent results have been few and far between. Deimos in 2017 and Augustano the following year (before he was transferred to Lee Freedman) probably remain his best efforts.
However, after picking the brains of two Australian horsemen, Brown is this year having another throw at the stumps with Inferno, who is running in the $75,000 Magic Millions 2YOs in Training Sale Stakes over 1200m, the fourth and penultimate Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series this Sunday.
Brown compared notes with ex-jockey Danny Beasley, and now Daniel Meagher’s assistant-trainer, as well as Mornington trainer Jim Conlan – Brown’s champion galloper Debt Collector’s new trainer in Australia – for their experience with “babies”.
“I’m such a bad trainer of two-year-olds. I had a few running in the 2YO series, they didn’t go much good,” said Brown in his typical self-deprecating style.
“I actually spoke to Danny Beasley about the training of two-year-olds. He rode a lot of them for Gai Waterhouse, who as you know is a great trainer of two-year-olds.
“Danny himself won one (2004) Golden Slipper with Polar Success for Graeme Rogerson. I also spoke with Jimmy Conlan, who also has a great record with two-year-olds.
“At the same time, (racing manager) Chris (Bock) was the one who picked Inferno together with four other yearlings in New Zealand. Chris is a very good judge of yearlings and of the lot, Inferno is the most forward – the rest will run as three-year-olds.
“I’m trying to apply what I learned from Danny and Jimmy. I have no idea if it’ll work, but I guess we’ll have an answer on Sunday.
“On his work, Inferno has done very well, and fingers crossed, he goes all right on Sunday.”
Weighted at 55kgs, the son of Holy Roman Emperor will be ridden by Brown’s No 1 jockey Michael Rodd and will race in famous colours, the pink and white silks worn by Debt Collector, those of the Barree Racing Stable of Mr Glenn Whittenbury.
“Glenn’s been a massive supporter of Singapore racing for a long time,” said Brown.
“Debt Collector has left and may come back, but in the meantime, Glenn is still renewing his stock with new blood, which is all to his credit.
“Let’s see how Inferno goes, and not get too carried away. That first run will give us a better idea where he is at.”
At his only barrier trial on June 20, Inferno showed good toe at the start before taking a backseat behind stablemate Bluestone (Daniel Moor). Urged a little by Rodd at the 250m mark, he came collaring Bluestone before drawing clear for a 1 ¼-length win.
Brown is hoping a forward run will keep him in the mix towards the final Leg on July 19.
“I’d like to get him to the Group 2 race, but all will depend on his first-up run,” said Brown.
“It won’t be easy with horses who have already got a few runs under the belt, but we’ll see.”
Trainer Ricardo Le Grange lines up two such runners in the race – Rocket Star, winner of the second Leg, the Thoroughbred Breeders Australia Centenary Stakes over 1100m on June 9, and Golden Dash who took out a Restricted Maiden race over 1200m on turf two days earlier.