Circuit land on golden mission

Circuit Land (No. 7) charging to pip reigning Horse of the Year Infantry by a head in the Group 2 Chairman's Trophy in April. While he is highly fancied for the Gold Cup, Elite Excalibur is also in the running for honours.
Circuit Land (No. 7) charging to pip reigning Horse of the Year Infantry by a head in the Group 2 Chairman's Trophy in April. While he is highly fancied for the Gold Cup, Elite Excalibur is also in the running for honours.THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTO

Freedman-trained star looks a solid bet in Singapore Gold Cup with Debt Collector out

For a long time now, and in big races especially, it is always reassuring and refreshing to see the name "Freedman" in the trainers' bracket beside the horse of your choice.

And if the name happens to be David Lee Freedman, so much the better.

This is a guy who takes no prisoners in a big race and, come Sunday, in the Dester Singapore Gold Cup, he will send out Circuit Land.

Already the talk of the town, racegoers have made the seven-year-old the likely favourite in the $1.35 million race.

I will take it a step further and pick Circuit Land to win the 2,000m contest.

While taking nothing way from the American-bred, his task was made much easier when his nemesis, the mighty Debt Collector, was deemed a non-acceptor on Monday.

In his last two starts - and both were high-class races - Circuit Land had to suffer the indignity of having sods of turf kicked back into his face by the Cliff Brown-trained Debt Collector.

The latter went on to claim both the Raffles and the QE II cups.

Finally released from the shackles of Singapore's favourite "Ah Long", Circuit Land can now concentrate on the task before him while dreaming of his day in the sun. And, by my reckoning, all that could come sooner rather than later.

Indeed, if ever there was a "Cup horse" - as we like to call it - Circuit Land fits the bill.

Flown in from Hong Kong early in the season, his mission has always been "to win the big races" at Kranji.

So far, he has raced just six times, with his biggest success being that victory in the Chairman's Trophy at just his second Kranji start.

It was "just a $500,000 race" but the way he won it - beating Infantry - showed us that he was no stranger to adversity.

Then came the heartache of being beaten in the Raffles Cup and that third place in the QE II Cup.

Circuit Land is better than that. But nothing is cast in stone and, as the Gold Cup always produces great theatre, the best-scripted plot can sometimes be changed.

Yes, strange things do happen and, if the story is to have a different ending, I will have Elite Excalibur making it happen.

Trained by Brown, who saddled Gilt Complex to win last year's Gold Cup, Elite Excalibur will jump from a "good gate" - No. 2 - and he must be given a huge chance. Michael Rodd, a jockey who knows what it is like to ride and win big races, will be in the saddle.

There could be a rush for the minors and my two roughies will be Claudia's Beauty and Noah From Goa.

Trained by Leslie Khoo, Claudia's Beauty drew Gate 3 and, according to him, it is the ideal spot for his mare to get into the race unimpeded.

Like Circuit Land, Noah From Goa was also flown in to contest the big-money races. So, never mind where he is from. With the right kind of run and Nooresh Juglall doing the steering, he could arrive - big time.

That said, the Gold Cup astonishes me. Always has. Always will. But I will not be astonished one bit if Circuit Land triumphs and Freedman lifts the trophy in this, his first full season at Kranji.


SINGAPORE GOLD CUP

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2018, with the headline 'Circuit land on golden mission'. Print Edition | Subscribe