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Timely training double to keep Brown happy
Michael Lee

Unlucky with hot favourite Where She’s Happy earlier in Race 2, trainer Cliff Brown found joy in quickfire succession in the next two races with another hotpot, Elite Incredible, but with a longshot as well in debutant Atlas on Sunday.


It had been a wonder how come Elite Incredible, Top Knight’s runner-up in the Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m), was still a maiden after five starts, but that tag is now behind the Argentinian-bred Valid Stripes four-year-old after he finally got off the mark at the prohibitive odds of $6 in the $50,000 Debt Collector 2016 Stakes, a Class 4 Division 3 race over 1200m.


Completely friendless at $188 in the $75,000 Stepitup 2015 Stakes, a Restricted Maiden Division 1 race over 1200m, Atlas was on the other hand, not circled among Brown’s better chances at this Group 1 Raffles Cup meeting, but the Atlante three-year-old flew home to give the Brown yard another good reason to help erase the below-par run from Where She’s Happy (fifth), a barrier trial winner by 7 ½ lengths in the lead-up.

Elite Incredible (Michael Rodd) puts paid to his rivals in Race 3.

Michael Rodd did the steering job at both Brown wins.


“I’ve put the blinkers on as he’s become a bit colty,” said Brown of Elite Incredible.


“The track had been leader dominated on Friday. So, I wanted Michael to scrub him up after 300m so he would be within range.


“We changed tactics, he usually settles midfield and gets home but we couldn’t do it today. We’ll keep the blinkers on.”


Elite Incredible was indeed ridden more positive than usual, getting a smothered run behind the speed set by Classified (Koh Teck Huat) before asserting his superiority at the 300m.


King Zoustar (Alysha Collett) let down late but had to settle for second place another length away with Stardice (Daniel Moor) third another length away. The winning time was 1min 10.24secs for the 1200m on the Short Course.


“He was a bit slow out of the gates, probably because of the blinkers,” said Rodd.


“I had to use him early as he was in a flat spot and I didn’t want the rest to get away from him.


“He’s better off ridden off the speed, but he did a good job today.”


While Elite Incredible was a much-anticipated win that brought much relief to the camp, Brown said he was totally taken by surprise by Atlas’s debut win.


“There was no great hope for Atlas. I thought he’d run well and finish off, I’m very happy he won, but I didn’t expect it,” said the Australian handler.


“He’s been an absolute nightmare and all credit should go to my trackriders.”


Even though he was at his maiden win, Elite Incredible has amazingly taken his stakes earnings close to the $230,000 mark, largely due to his Group 1 and 2 placings (he also ran second to Top Knight in the Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1400m).


Without taking anything from Atlas, the race was probably thrown wide open when jockey Benny Woodworth lost his irons on favourite Supermax shortly after the start.


Woodworth tried in vain to regain his stirrups as he adroitly got Supermax to recover and sit outside leader Kimitonara (Simon Kok Wei Hoong), doing his best to keep the ship steady during the bumpy ride before retiring from the race at the top of the straight to eventually finish last.


Kimitonara, another debutant, had the race in his keeping at that stage, but Atlas charged home to nut him out by a head. Saturday (Vlad Duric) joined late to run third another length away for a trifecta of newcomers.


The winning time was 1min 10.53secs for the 1200m on the Short Course.