By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Singapore Horse of the Year I’m Incredible is close to making his much-awaited racing comeback after he was seen at his first barrier trial from a break on Tuesday.
Last year’s winner of the supreme equine title has not popped up on a racecard since his unplaced run in the Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2000m), blotting a copybook that had up until then featured a five-in-a-row, including Group hat-trick blitz, with the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m) in October the career highlight.
That late blemish didn’t sway the judging panel come voting time. Shane Baertschiger had his first champion horse, be it as a trainer in his own right or as B-trainer to his father Don at both Bukit Timah and Kranji.
The Australian conditioner will not allow the Lope De Vega five-year-old to rest on his laurels, though. He has already plotted a specific path for his champion, at least for the first three starts.
“He is making his comeback in a Class 1 race over 1200m on April 3. It’s a Polytrack race, which is not ideal, but there was nothing else,” he said.
I’m Incredible raced on the alternative track only twice, coming up with his two worst performances, outside the Gold Cup’s.
The on-pace runner actually runs on the surface quite well in his barrier trials (he won two), but Tuesday’s was just to blow away the cobwebs.
Stable rider Matthew Kellady was seen just holding the chestnut together in midfield, letting him amble along to the line in fifth place six lengths off the winner Fame Star, who, on the other hand, was given a serious hit-out by jockey Marc Lerner.
“It was an easy trial today. Matty (Kellady) rode him today as Vlad Duric is away,” said Baertschiger who is renewing the successful combination of equine and human champions this prep.
“He had six weeks off after the Gold Cup and he’s come back in good shape. He’s been very good in his trackwork.
“I was happy with his trial today. He will need one more before that first race.
“Second-up, he will then run in the Moonbeam Vase and third-up will be the Kranji Mile.”
The Group 3 Moonbeam Vase (1600m) is due on May 1, which then gives I’m Incredible three weeks to his main target, the International Group 3 Kranji Mile (1600m) on May 23. Both races are run on turf.
Besides the QEII Cup, I’m Incredible boasts two Group 3 races to his name, the Committee’s Prize (1600m) in August and the Ultima El Dorado Classic (2000m) one month later, partnered on both occasions by lightweight jockey A’Isisuhairi Kasim.
Kellady also knows I’m Incredible well for having race-ridden him twice for a second and a fourth, but primarily from his prep work.
“I couldn’t be happier with him. He just had an easy quiet trial this morning, but I had plenty underneath me” said the Malaysian rider.
“He’ll need another trial, which will be more of a hit-out and should give us a better guide where he is at.
“Both Vlad and I ride him in trackwork. He is always spot-on in his gallops.”