The well-named Well Done showed that all the pre-race doubts about his ability to run out a strong 2000m were totally unfounded when he conjured up a blinding turn of foot inside the last 100m to record a pulsating win in the $1.15 million Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (2000m) on Sunday.
The Falkirk chestnut was as convincing as any when he won the Group 1 Patron’s Bowl (1600m), the second Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge of which the Derby is the third and final Leg, three weeks ago, but knockers thought he might have had things his way with a soft run on the rails.
Though third at his only one attempt over the 1 ¼ mile, most were unsure, including his own trainer David Kok, if he would have the same turn of foot with another quarter-mile to cover, even if his barrier No 4 presented itself as a good ally.
Well Done (Michael Rodd, on the outside) produces a sizzling turn of foot to land the Emirates
Jockey Michael Rodd probably gave connections and those who took his $29 odds reasons to breathe better when he was able to find the fence, settling worse than midfield while expected frontrunner Time Odyssey (Olivier Placais) rolled to the lead before throwing out the anchors in the backstretch.
The first two-thirds of the race had gone to plan well enough for Well Done, but things suddenly looked dicey upon straightening as the 16 horses fanned across the track jostling for the best run to the winning post. Well Done was momentarily held up for a run as he ran into dead ends behind horses, but that predicament was made worse when Majestic Moments (Nooresh Juglall) looked like he had the race shot to pieces when he stormed away to a 1 ½-length break at the 200m.
But once Rodd eased his mount towards a gap down the middle of the track, the chase was on as the purring engine was finally let loose in a valiant bid to overturn the margin. With only 100m left to run, many still thought the winning post would come too early for Well Done, but the game galloper really motored home inside the concluding stages to eventually collar Majestic Moments close home and score with three-quarter-length to spare.
Rockfast (Manoel Nunes), who drew first blood when he circled the field from the 800m to sweep to the lead around the home turn, peaked on his run to still finish a creditable third another 1 ½ lengths away. The winning time was 2min 3secs for the 2000m on the Short Course.
Kok, who was capturing his third Group 1 success after the first coming from Cash Luck’s Panasonic Kranji Mile in 2013 and the second one being Well Done’s Patron’s Bowl, was struggling for words at the winner’s circle.
“Winning the Kranji Mile was such a big day for me, then the Patron’s Bowl was even more special as unlike Cash Luck (previously with Michael Freedman), Well Done was my horse from Day 1, I’ve groomed him from an unraced to what he is now,” he said.
“But to win the Derby today, I would say, that tops it, especially as I have only around 20 horses in my stable. I can’t find the words.
“It’s clearly my biggest day as a trainer, I’ve had many sleepless nights before the race, and tonight, I won’t be able to sleep again, it just hasn’t sunk in yet.
“My only worry was the distance, but when I saw Michael put him on the rails and switch him off, I was very confident. Even when he had nowhere to go in the straight, I knew he would run on once he found the gap.
“Nooresh was in front, but I know my horse has a very good turn of foot and he didn’t let me down.”
Derby glory: (from left) jockey Michael Rodd, trainer David Kok and owner Jason Goh celebrate their
momentous win with Well Done.
Rodd, who was still in Australia nursing his bruised heel when he found out he had landed the plum ride on Well Done after Patron’s Bowl winning partner Glen Boss preferred to stick with Laurie Laxon’s Mr Spielberg, just could not believe his charmed run.
Last May, he got the call-up at the right time on Debt Collector after Vlad Duric pulled the wrong rein and went with Fitzroy. The rest is history as they said, with Rodd snaring the last two Legs of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge with trainer Cliff Brown’s outstanding horse.
If it felt like deja-vu, Rodd did not mind a repeat of the same script as long as he was at the better receiving end, but he did clarify that Well Done would have been his 4YO campaigner right through had ne not hurt himself from Speedy Dragon, ironically a Kok’s horse, on May 27.
“I’m really beside myself now, really emotional. This is all pretty special,” said the Australian jockey who boasts some of his country’s biggest Group 1 wins, including the Melbourne Cup.
“It’s been a rough year with all the injuries and a slower start than last year, but to be able to bounce back and win the Singapore Derby, it’s just amazing.
“I only heard I was getting back on him after Bossy had to make a decision and he went with Mr Spielberg. Such is life but that’s the way it goes in racing.
“He had a good trip throughout, but I thought the leader (Majestic Moments) was too far ahead at one stage. My horse hit a bit of a flat spot just like in the Patron’s Bowl, but then he got his balance back and in the last 50m, he really gunned him down.
“Here I have to give David a big wrap. I won on this horse over 1700m on Polytrack, and then he won over the mile, but he wasn’t sure if he would get 2000m.
“David’s done a bit of second-guessing but he stuck to his guns. The horse trialled last week and it was a very soft run.
“The others were pushing hard with their horses, but David really gave him a quiet lead-up after the Patron’s Bowl. He didn’t want him to do too much, he just spun around and did 600 in 40 seconds, which I think was the key to today’s win.”
Boss, who just began his new Singapore stint in March and already had two silverware under his belt (other one is the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup with Laughing Gravy) would be lying if he said he was not disappointed he had not won the Singapore Derby with Mr Spielberg, but had no regrets, saying he had been put paid by the pace of the race.
But as the triple Melbourne Cup-winning jockey said on the day he elected for Mr Spielberg, he would still shake Kok’s hands if Well Done won the Derby – and he did keep his promise.
“The slow tempo didn’t suit my horse. I was bottled up on the fence whereas Well Done had a clear run,” said the top Australian jockey after he went to congratulate both Kok and owner Jason Goh.
“But no excuse, the winner deserved the win and I’m happy for David and the owner Jason. In saying this, I still think I picked the right horse, it’s just that the circumstances didn’t suit.”
Besides taking his overall earnings past the $1.1 million mark for Goh of the Well Done Stable with that seventh win in 17 starts, Well Done also picked up a bonus of $50,000 for winning two Legs of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge.