The Singapore Triple Crown series was first introduced shortly after the Singapore Turf Club shifted from Bukit Timah to Kranji in 1999. This exciting series was inspired by the prestigious Triple Crown in the United States.
While the American version dates back to the 1920s with the world-famous Kentucky Derby followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, the Singapore edition is younger but is similarly based on the same three-Leg model, though it did not always comprise the same three races.
The original series actually kicked off with the Raffles Cup, followed by the Queen Elizabeth II Cup before culminating with the crown jewel - the time-honoured Singapore Gold Cup. It was only after racing moved to Kranji that the series was switched to the Kranji Mile, a race first introduced in 2000, as the opening Leg, followed by the Raffles Cup and the Singapore Gold Cup.
After 18 years, the Singapore Triple Crown series has interestingly gone full circle in 2018 to return to its original version, but is still meant for three-year-olds and above and run during the same September-November period.
The $1 million Group 1 Raffles Cup is now shortened from 1,800 metres to the mile and run at the end of September, followed by the $1 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup over 1,800 metres in October, with both races run at weight-for-age. The anchor race and final Leg still remains the $1.35 million Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup, the only handicap race of the three, and which was dropped from 2,200 metres to 2,000 metres.
The Kranji Mile is now an Invitational Group 1 race worth $3 million run in May, with a provision to turn it into an International Group 1 race in the near future.
As an added incentive, the winner of any two Legs is entitled to a bonus prize of $50,000 while the winner of all three Legs wins a bonus prize of $300,000.
Regardless of format, no horse has managed to win all three Legs in a calendar year, with the closest being Smart Bet who won all three races, but over a span of two years, when the former Mohd Yusof-trained champion landed the Kranji Mile in 2001 before winning the Raffles Cup and the Singapore Gold Cup a year later.
Debt Collector could have had a shot at rewriting history this year when he won the first two Legs, but just like in 2016, trainer Cliff Brown preferred to see his champion galloper sit out the Singapore Gold Cup. The race was no less exciting with Elite Invincible getting up in a tight finish to hand both trainer Mark Walker and jockey Benny Woodworth their first Gold strike.
Winner: Debt Collector
Winner: Elite Invincible