Countofmontecristo gave a fairly strong hint he may be back in form following a sparkling barrier trial win on Thursday morning.
The former Singapore champion three-year-old has not saluted for more than a year. He did not disgrace himself at his subsequent eight runs, the latest being the Emirates Singapore Derby (1800m) in which he ran on for fifth to Jupiter Gold, but he was clearly finding the going tougher against better quality horses.
Ridden for the first time by Vlad Duric in Thursday’s hit-out, Countofmontecristo, who was also fitted with blinkers for the first time, lay in wait behind the leading pair of Volkstok’n’barrell and Aramco before skipping clear upon cornering.
Dashing past Aramco with ease, the son of Echoes Of Heaven hit the line with two and a half lengths to spare from the Shane Baertschiger-trained galloper with Debt Collector flashing home late for third another 1 ¼ lengths away.
Assistant-trainer Michael White had every reason to be happy with such a rousing gallop 10 days before Countofmontecristo’s upcoming target, the Raffles Cup (1600m) on September 23.
“It was a great trial from Countofmontecristo ahead of his target race. That was also his blinker test,” said White.
“He wore winkers once, but never blinkers, and he handled them very well. He will most probably wear them in the Raffles Cup.
“As he’ll be fresh-up, we are throwing everything at him just to try new things, and see how he goes. Vlad was happy with his trial, he said it was a nice soft trial for him.”
The Singapore champion jockey is, however, not the one to become the 10th rider to partner the seven-time winner next Sunday week. Brazilian-born Irish jockey Franco Da Silva – who recently finished third on Korean raider Today in the Korea Racing Authority Trophy - is being flown in from Busan, Korea for the steering duties.
“Many jockeys have ridden him. It was a good time to put Vlad on and give him his chance!” said White.
“But he won’t be riding him in the Raffles Cup. I believe Da Silva has been booked.”
Of the nine previous jockeys to have ridden Countofmontecristo, Glen Boss is by far the most successful having won at six of his seven wins, with Alan Munro the other victorious partner, which occurred at that last win on September 10, 2017 in the Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m). -STC