The old saying that ‘form is temporary but class is permanent’ couldn’t have rung truer after Windsor Park-bred Debt Collector (Thorn Park) came from nowhere to land the $1 million Gr.1 Raffles Cup (1600m) at Kranji racecourse in Singapore yesterday.
The 2016 Singapore Horse of the Year, Debt Collector captured the same feature race that year when it was run over 1800m as the second Leg of the Singapore Triple Crown series (now it’s the first Leg and shortened to a mile) and after his form dipped last year he was sent to Australia for a five-month rejuvenation period.
It was therefore poetic justice that the Thorn Park six-year-old, owned by the Barree Stable, picked that event to show he had lost none of those stellar qualities that had previously seen him bag eight wins, including five at Group level.
Fans, including trainer Cliff Brown and connections, had their hearts in their mouths upon cornering. Dropped out to last as is his pattern of racing, Debt Collector was still last with 500m to go and with about a dozen lengths to make up on leader Countofmontecristo (NZ) (Echoes Of Heaven).
But rider Michael Rodd timed the champion galloper’s run with clockwork precision and in a scene reminiscent of his past grandstand finishes from the ruck, Debt Collector ravenously gobbled up the ground like time had come to a standstill to finish in advance of Circuit Land (Mizzen Mast) by a short head, with Jupiter Gold (Congrats) in third.
“This is amazing. It was a phenomenal win,” Brown began, struggling for words. “Of course, I was concerned when he was so far back. We always have doubts, especially with the way this horse runs, but he was just fantastic in the straight.
“The horse went back to Australia, and we weren’t sure if it would pay off. The boys and girls at the stable have done an amazing job with him”.
Though just as overwhelmed as Brown by the unreal occasion, Rodd was still able to describe the race to a tee while waxing lyrical about his special horse at the same time.
“I can’t believe what this horse has done today after his spell. It feels like a dream”, said Rodd.
“I rode him like he was the best horse in the field and when they went a solid last 600m I knew they would come back to us on the Long Course.”
The Gr.1 Raffles Cup win – his ninth in 19 starts - has now taken Debt Collector’s stakes earnings to the $2.2 million mark.
He is a product of Windsor Park Stud and was purchased out of their draft at the 2014 National Yearling Sale before making his way to Brown’s stable after the trainer outlaid $120,000 for him at the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale later that year.
Click here to watch Debt Collector's sensational win