Bookmark and Share
Debt Collector reigns supreme in QEII Cup
Michael Lee

Champion galloper Debt Collector left no doubt in anybody’s mind who is currently the middle-distance kingpin in Singapore after he raced away to an emphatic win in the $1 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m) on Sunday.


While that 10th win and a fifth Group 1 success, not to mention more than $2.7 million in stakes money pocketed, made for yet another resounding success for the Barree Stable-owned Thorn Park six-year-old, it was the manner of Sunday’s win which was the talking point quickly latched on by racing scribes in search of a different spin.


Debt Collector is the quintessential swooper who times his runs to a tee – storm home to get up at the eleventh hour. Watch all his nine wins and you will understand why a heart defibrillator is always on standby.

Debt Collector (Michael Rodd) en route to victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Sunday.

At his last win – his first since coming back from an Australian holiday slash rehab to basically kick up his heels after turning a little sour from a tough campaign last year - in the first Leg of the Singapore Triple Crown series, the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1600m) on September 23, he did not fail to serve another cliffhanger, coming from last to pip Circuit Land by a head.


But the 2016 Singapore Horse of the Year went for a slightly less suspenseful run this time. For a change, he had the other 13 horses in his rear-view mirror by the 200m!


Even regular partner Michael Rodd said in his post-race victory interview he was a bit “embarrassed” he might have gone the early crow, but truth be told, when you are cut from the cloth of champions, good things don’t always come to those who wait.


Ahead of just Mr Spielberg (Craig Grylls) and Bahana (Amirul Ismadi) from barrier rise, Debt Collector initially took up his customary role of smoking his pipe, just minding his own business, paired up with Majestic Moments (Barend Vorster) on his inside.


But as soon as he was peeled out for his run from the 600m, he just stuck to the task at hand as he does, but the only difference was he went on to engulf his rivals much earlier than he usually does.


Maybe the fact that race-leader Countofmontecristo (Vlad Duric) petered out prematurely and the well-fancied lot like Jupiter Gold (Olivier Placais) – who had a torrid trip punching the breeze - Circuit Land (Ruan Maia) and Mr Clint (Daniel Moor) were making heavy weather of it at the 300m, did account for that sooner-than-expected burst to prominence.


Fears he would get the wobbles being in an unfamiliar territory on his lonesome surely crept in connections’ and fans’ heads, but Rodd made sure there was no room for loafing around.


Debt Collector did show a momentary inclination to roll out when he went one length clear, but three smacks of the whip and three strong pushes to the line got the champ back on the straight and narrow – and out of trouble.


Noah From Goa (Nooresh Juglall) and Circuit Land were indeed still within striking distance should Debt Collector falter, but it was the stunningly evergreen Majestic Moments ($399) who gave connections a brief hope of a late sucker punch inside the last 100 yards as he sizzled through to the line, but could only come within a length of Debt Collector for a smashing second.


Circuit Land ran third another half-length away with fourth place going to another roughie in Daliapour mare Claudia’s Beauty (Wong Chin Chuen), certainly making her an interesting outsider in the last Leg of the Singapore Triple Crown series, the Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) on November 11.


Backed down to $13 favouritism, Debt Collector ran the 1800m on the Long Course in a smart 1min 47.15secs. He also took home a bonus of $50,000 for winning two Legs. Should he rewrite history by becoming the first Triple Crown winner in the annals of Singapore racing on November 11, the bonus will increase to $300,000.

Winning trio smiles for the camera: (from left) jockey Michael Rodd, owner Glenn Whittenbury and
trainer Cliff Brown.

“The race panned out well for us. From a three-wide position, I was able to get into a one-off spot,” said Rodd.


“He was tracking right behind the right horse, and when I took him three wide again at the 800m, he was still tracking behind the right horses.


“I didn’t know he would get to the front so easy, though. I was almost embarrassed, I felt like a kid trying to keep him steady.


“It’s almost like he’s ripped us off. I should have sat earlier and kept him tucked in, but by the 300m, he had rounded them up already, he had them covered.


“With Cliffy and the boys, it’s always nervous times with this horse. There is never a hair out of place, and when he is out there, we have to make sure how fast he goes around the bloody track.


“I’m glad it all came together. He’s been a very special horse from Day 1.”


Whether “special” becomes “phenomenal” on November 11 remains to be seen, but Brown will just enjoy the moment of another Group 1 win for now – his 11th (among 23 Singapore ‘black type’ wins) and second Queen Elizabeth II Cup win after Laughing Gravy two years ago, when the race was then run over 2000m.


“So much work goes into this horse. It’s a team effort first and foremost,” said the Australian handler.


“A big thanks to all the boys and also to Dr Dan Shaw, his vet. I wouldn’t have done it without them.”