A two-horse race

Infantry (No. 2), a contender for the 2017 Horse of the Year, capturing the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby in July.
Infantry (No. 2), a contender for the 2017 Horse of the Year, capturing the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby in July.ST FILE PHOTO

Infantry and Gilt Complex are neck and neck in the battle for 2017 Horse of the Year award

Will it be Infantry or Gilt Complex?

Unlike recent years, when Rocket Man, Super Easy, War Affair and Debt Collector stood out, the race for the 2017 Horse of the Year award is not as clear-cut.

Both Infantry and Gilt Complex emerged last season to catch the imagination of local racegoers with their classy performances at the top level.

They deservingly head a list of 24 nominees from the various categories eligible for the champion horse title at the Singapore Racing Awards gala night on Monday.

Hosted by the Association of Racehorse Trainers of Singapore and coordinated by the Customer Care Department of the Singapore Turf Club, the annual glamour event is at the John Jacob Ballroom, St Regis Hotel, in Tanglin Road.

About 280 people from the racing fraternity, both local and abroad, will grace Singapore racing's Oscar Night.

The Alwin Tan-trained and Thai-owned Infantry charged forward for the top honour with a host of feature-race victories and is the horse nominated in the most number of categories.

The Kajorn Petch Racing No. 2 Stable-owned New Zealand-bred captured the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (2,000m), Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile (1,600m), Group 2 Merlion Trophy (1,200m) and Group 3 JBBA Moonbeam Vase (1,800m).

The versatile bay gelding, who was also placed in a few other Group races, is vying for five other titles - Champion Sprinter, Champion Four-Year-Old, Champion Miler, Champion Stayer and Champion Polytrack Horse.

He looks quite assured of the Champion Four Year Old and Champion Miler awards, and is a big possibility for the Champion Polytrack Horse based on his Group 2 Merlion Trophy victory.

While his curriculum vitae is very impressive, Infantry will find the Cliff Brown-trained and Graham Mackie-owned Gilt Complex racing neck and neck with him to the wire.

Already named the Most Improved Horse, Gilt Complex was not a Horse of the Year contender until recently, after his stupendous Group 1 double - the Raffles Cup (1,800m) in October and the Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2,200m) in November.

The two races made up the final legs of the Singapore Triple Crown.

Infantry won the first leg, the Panasonic Kranji Mile, in which Gilt Complex ran 12th, but skipped the Raffles Cup owing to an injury.

He ran fifth as the topweight in the Gold Cup, which,with $1.35 million in prize money, is the richest race in Singapore.

The Raffles Cup-Gold Cup double has virtually sealed Gilt Complex for the Champion Stayer and Champion Older Horse awards.

The double also certainly puts him on par with Infantry for Horse of the Year title.The creates a big headache for the voting panel - which comprises the Singapore Turf Club handicapping panel, the media and the STC's TV broadcasting teams.

With little separating Gilt Complex and Infantry's achievements last season, it is now not a question of what to choose but what to leave out.

Watch this space for the winner on Tuesday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2018, with the headline 'A two-horse race'. Print Edition | Subscribe