By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Michael Rodd is excited to be back on Singapore Derby prospect Pax Animi.
The gun rider was atop when the Cliff Brown-trained Rebel Raider four-year-old made a smashing start to his Kranji career in a Class 4 race over 1200m on November 17.
But as the weights dropped at his next two outings, the heavyweight jockey had to watch on the sidelines as Patrick Moloney jumped at the opportunity with a second place and a win (in a Class 3 race at his last start over 1400m on February 21), once again producing that electric turn of foot that has now become his signature.
In the meantime, Rodd, who gets first call on Brown’s horses when weight permits, took the ride on Elite Incredible in the first Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, the Group 3 Silver Bowl (1400m) on February 29.
A fast-closing sixth to Bold Thruster was not a bad warm-up from a second-Leg and third-Leg perspective, but after Brown fielded Pax Animi, Elite Incredible and Hardcore in the next Leg, the $400,000 Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) this Friday, there were no prizes for guessing which way Rodd was going.
“Pax Animi has been training for this race. He has really shown ability with two wins and one second in three starts,” said the Australian jockey.
“He’s done a good job so far, and the blinkers go on for the first time this weekend. He responded well with them in a barrier trial (on March 10 when fourth to Fame Star).
“He has this tendency not to jump out at the start, and then drops out. He cannot do that at that level.
“He’s got to step up and we hope the blinkers will take care of that.”
In three starts in Victoria for Ballarat trainer Melody Cunningham when then known as Cat Raider, Pax Animi saluted at his last run in a 1400m race at his home track before being bought by the Buffalo Stable and Nick Johnston, who was behind the Latin-inspired name which means “peace of mind”.
“He’s never run beyond 1400m back home, but he is by Rebel Raider who won the Victoria Derby (2500m in 2008),” said Rodd.
“I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t run the distance in the Singapore Derby.”
Run over 1800m since 2018, the Group 1 Singapore Derby is the third Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge and will be staged on April 18, four weeks from the Stewards’ Cup.
Brown won last year’s Stewards’ Cup with What’s New while Rodd has yet to add his name to the winning roster, but both have a Derby to their name when it was run over 2000m and sponsored by Emirates, albeit separately. Brown won with Clint (John Powell) in 2011 and Rodd won aboard Well Done for trainer David Kok in 2016.