Via Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
If regular viewers of Australian racing watching this Saturday’s races at Flemington spot a horse by the name of Debt Agent going around in familiar white and pink silks, make no mistake about it, it is Debt Collector.
The name may be slightly different, but Debt Agent is indeed Singapore’s 2016 Horse of the Year who is having his first Australian start in the A$175,000 Furphy Refreshing Ale Paris lane Stakes, a Listed race over 1400m this Saturday. Leading Melbourne jockey Ben Melham is booked for the ride.
The renaming became necessary given there is another Debt Collector already registered as an active racehorse in Australia, albeit based in Adelaide.
The connections remain the same for the seven-year-old, though. Kranji trainer Cliff Brown’s former champion still races for the Barree Stable and is now prepared by Mornington trainer Jim Conlan.
Debt Agent (using his new name to avoid any confusion) was retired from Singapore racing shortly after his fourth place in the Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) and it was found that his respiratory issues have recurred. The son of Thorn Park was shipped to Australia shortly after in the hope his racing career could be resurrected.
Brown said the fact that his former 12-time winner, including five at Group 1 level and earner of more than $3 million in stakes will again face the starter this Saturday was already mission accomplished – win, lose or draw.
“Jim has not inherited a new horse. He’s a horse who, as you know, had issues,” said Brown.
“But he’s done everything right and Jim’s really happy with the way he has come along. We can now only hope for a good run first-up.
“It’ll be interesting to see how he runs, but it really doesn’t matter where he finishes. We’ll just take it race by race with him.
“He’ll definitely take improvement from that first run.”
Another person who will be keenly keeping an eye on Debt Agent at his first Australian outing is his regular partner in Singapore, jockey Michael Rodd.
“It’s great to see the old boy back racing,” said Rodd who was aboard at all his wins bar one (Vlad Duric rode then).
“The 1400m is a good trip to kick things off. Let’s hope he can run a good race.”
Debt Agent, who was given an Australian rating of 105 (he left Singapore the highest-rated horse on 122 points) and will shoulder the top impost of 59kgs, will jump from a middle draw in seven.
At this stage, it looks like Debt Agent is around fourth in the line of betting behind Violate, Music Bay and Romancer, but there are no prizes for guessing which way Singapore racing fans would go.
*Unfortunately, Debt Agent’s race (Race 2 at Flemington at 11.10am Singapore time) is not part of the simulcast this Saturday, but some viewers can still watch the race ‘live’ via other means, for example Racing.com.