Oddly I have forgotten this race was on the past two years. It has probably been my most successful betting race of all time, having backed the winner in six of the prior eight editions, with most of those being double figure shots. The race really did go a certain script in that era, being a typical handicap race where you would just pick a very lowly weighted horse, preferably in form, or one that you figured was capable of beating the poorly handicapped higher weighted horses. Last year the race changed from a 2200m event to a 2000m one and it hasn’t really produced the typical winner the past two years. That distance also makes it less of a staying test. Still it does seem to be okay to follow a horse dropping in weight from a below par effort at it’s previous start. The horse that won last year came off a well beaten 5.9L defeat over 1400m prior, which would have found me out I’m sure. It was a bit of a fortunate win though given the third place horse had a horribly wide run in transit and was very unlucky (Mr. Clint). Below are some updated history figures (that I had in 2014), which should be more or less accurate.
- A weight drop is almost essential and 4.5kg is about the average drop required
2. Average winning weight is approximately 52g
3 4 & 5yos have won 8 of last 9
4. Raffles Cup at WFA has produced 6 of the last 13 winners, but only won has won that race, and most have dropped massively in weight from that race to win off well beaten runs.
5. 9 of 13 have won inside barrier 10, and those that didn’t all had 51kg or less in this race.
6. The only horses to have won their previous start (and then this) came out of the Kranji mile (1600m race).
7. No winner (in this period) has been beaten more than 7.5L at it’s previous start.
- 8. A former Australian or NZ based jockey has won 10 of the past 13 editions. My best guess is that 5 of those travelled over specifically on the day to ride in this race. The rest I think were based in Singapore at the time.
My first look at this year’s betting market had me thinking it was spot on correct but I’m not quite sure it is now having delved a bit deeper. Clearly the form horse head and shoulders above anything else in that regard is I’M INCREDIBLE who has put together six wins in a row from on the pace. A couple of those have been incredibly gutsy efforts after enduring wide runs and/or being attacked in front. He drops 2.5kg here off winning a WFA race which is normally a recipe for success. That makes him as deserved favourite and the one they all have to beat. A wide barrier, with competition up front, and a distance which is probably on his outer limit are of some concern though.
Dare I say it, we should get a truly run race here with the likes of I’m Incredible, Sun Marshal, Super Dynasty and perhaps Elite Invincible capable of leading. Black Jade can also race on pace. Three of the likely leaders are drawn out in double figure barriers. I would favour an off pace horse to win the race this year although both I’m Incredible and Sun Marshal don’t give up easily.
Firstly I will state categorically that the typical historical pick in this year’s race would be REAL SUCCESS to be ridden by Australian based jockey Brad Thompson, who has ridden the horse in Australia on three occasions in his two and three year old years, for one win. He drops 7kg off a last start resounding win in an admittedly lower class race. His time that day was actually superior to the WFA race won by I’m Incredible, although it was largely race pattern that produced the difference. His race was run at a faster pace but I think that only adds more merit to his effort as he did seem to be a sitting duck for his stablemate Dicton who was a few lengths further off that decent pace early. That was 1800m but based on how he outstayed his rivals that day the 2000m is not going to be an issue with 7kg less, given he is also perfectly drawn. He finished midfield in a M/Valley Vase behind Stars Of Carrum as a 3yo and 7L behind Vow And Declare in another 2000m race at the same age. Apparently he is more mature now and I think the evidence of that was shown last start. $9 seems a good price about him given he beat a horse called Star Jack very easily last time and it had been runner up to I’m Incredible (with 2kg less) a few starts back at 2000m. He should get the perfect run in behind a genuine pace in this race.
Some comments on the others;
COUNTOFMONTECRISTO– The weight looks a negative but he is the class runner of the race and I think his handicapper rating of 109 has shin attractively weighted given he is 6 rating points ahead of the next horse. That means he should be giving 3kg, and not 1.5kg to the next weighted horse Predator, and 4.5kg to I’m Incredible. Keep in mind though that horse did beat him at level weights last time. Having said that I think he produced the best lead up run of any horse last start hitting the line hard late from well back in an unsuitably slow run race. He has never been to this trip before but that was 1800m and run suggested he would eat up 2000m. His mother won at this distance and he also has Siblings that have which is very encouraging. He should get a race run to suit this time and his draw inside 10 looks fine for him. He is not the type of horse I normally want to back in a handicap but @ $17 I definitely want to here, renmembering the distance and weighting system of this race has changed in very recent times.
PREDITOR– Hard to see him beating the aforementioned off their last meeing off a similar race pattern last start, even though he is 1.5kg better off. He is a place hope though from an okay barrier.
KING LOUIS– He might start as favourite and really is knocking on the door, beaten a lip by I’m Incredible last start. He is perfectly drawn to get the ideal run and has William Pike over to ride (0-3/3). What I would say is that he finds it hard to win and his last victory salute was more than a year ago. He is always quite highly fancied too so I’m not sure I want to back him at the price giving weight away to some handy runners. Absolute must horse for Trifecta, Quinellas and First 4’s though.
SUN MARSHAL– He was a surprise Singapore Derby winner earlier this year (1600m) , but it was a deserved win after being on the pace and wide early. In Australia he raced as Han Xin for the Waterhouse/Bott stable and ran second in a Grand Prix in Brisbane as a three year old behind Heavenly Thought relegating Dark Dream to third. The latter horse went on to win the Derby that year and now races in Hong Kong. He would win this race very easily with the weight this horse has allocated. He was comfortably beaten by I’m Incredible last start but probably needed the run and looks set to peak here third up for the Lee Freedman stable. The barrier is a bit tricky and so is the fact there is other pace in the race. Maybe he can slot in on the rail behind two leaders though and he looks a very good chance to win this @ $9.
MR CLINT– He has the services of Craig Williams and has drawn perfectly for the Lee Freedman stable also. As mentioned he absolutely should have won this race last year. BUT, his last run was a shocker and he has only won 4 of his 22 starts with 8 placings. I think this race is definitely harder than last year too. I can’t see any value in his $5 price but I think he is going to be a popular pick come race time. If he runs to his best then a placing looks likely again. He has drawn inside at his past two runs also and the run two back was very encouraging admittedly.
STAR EMPEROR– He had been the horse I wanted to be on for this race months ago and everything indicated he would be the likely type to win until he blotted his copybook last start in a big way. That was a run totally out of character and nearly impossible to forgive in regards to today. Every run prior his last 100m had been by far the best part of his races storming home late but last start there was just no spark whatsoever. He might just be a handicapper although he had run well at WFA at his prior start. He has drawn horribly but not sure that matters at all because he always drops out last. He has a jockey change and drops 6.5kg which appears to be his best hopes. Would love to see him as I’m on at $30+ but I just can’t see it happening.
SUPER DYNASTY- I doubt he is quite good enough but he was unlucky two starts back against Real Success and then won from the front unopposed last start, where he was entitled to win. He is the only true on pacer here to draw a good barrier and is also in the Freedman stable. The distance looks his real test.
YABADABADOO– He is worth a mention off two solid finishing efforts at his past two starts, one behind Real Success. I doubt the class of this race is actually that much of an issue but the 2000m is definitely a concern. 1400m to 2000m for today which oddly was the case for last year’s winner, and his last run has merit. Breeding doesn’t really suggest he can run in though one of his Dam’s Siblings has won at 2000m. I have seen worse $51 shots.
(Emergency) BLACK JADE– Has been disappointing at his past two starts but Blinkers go on and he can win based on his second to Sun Marshal over 2000m. He meets him 6 kg better here for a length defeat that day. He has won fiifth up which is the case here. The distance and class don’t seem to be an issue but his winning strike rate do. Nevertheless Blinkers first time and odds of $67 are appealing from a perfect draw and a likely perfect run in transit, if he gets a run!
I hope I haven’t missed the winner with the above. I’m not totally sure who I would have on top but I want to back both COUNTOFMONTECRISTO and REAL SUCCESS at what seem to be value odds. I’m Incredible is going to look the winner in the straight and is impossible to knock, and Sun Marshal looks a winning chance along with King Louis. Most of all I want to see Star Emperor win but I doubt he can off his last effort. Black Jade looks a very nice roughie if it gets a run which looks unlikely.
COUNTOFMONTECRISTO goes in as a Logical Longshot pick at the generous double figure odds.