Top jockey Michael Rodd believes 2016 Singapore Horse of the Year Debt Collector is close to his best form.
Six weeks ago, the Australian rider thought the horse he guided to seven of his eight wins, and all his five major wins, might need the run first-up from a 10-month break.
But Debt Collector surpassed expectations. He would have won the Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m) if not for a flying Preditor.
The son of Thorn Park had lost a bit of his killer instinct last year around this time, though never beaten too far off. Finally, at his last start when he finished a tame sixth to less-fancied stablemate Gilt Complex in last year’s Raffles Cup (1800m), trainer Cliff Brown and his owners, the Barree Stable sent him to Newhaven Park in New South Wales in a bid to get him out of that slump of form.
Almost a year on, here he is sitting among the favourites for the Raffles Cup again. It’s a feature race he had actually already added to his roll of honour (2016), but this time, it is run over the mile and kicks off the Singapore Triple Crown series when it used to be the middle Leg.
And the prizemoney has doubled to a cool million dollars.
Rodd sounded a lot more bullish ahead of his second-up run, especially after Debt Collector flashed home late for third in a barrier trial on Thursday. The winner Countofmontecristo will be one of his many tough Raffles Cup rivals in what is shaping up as a hot contest.
“It was a great trial. He did a lot more than the soft trial he had two weeks ago on August 30,” said Rodd.
“We’ve kept him ticking over since, in preparation for the Raffles Cup. I was very happy with his first-up run, he just got done and he’s pulled up fantastic since.
“He’s really improved from that run. I’m so happy he’s racing well again and I believe he’s a good chance to win the Raffles Cup.”
When asked if he thought Debt Collector was back to his best form, Rodd nodded, but remained cautious.
“I believe so. But he’s running in one of the best fields I’ve seen put together in a long time,” he said.
“All the horses are in it with a chance. It’s a good mix of young guns and old guns.
“In the end, it will come down to luck and how the pace will be. We’ll see how it goes.”
Those five months spent doing sweet nothing in Australia seem to have done the trick. -STC