Perfect for Elite Invincible

Champion jockey Duric happy with barrier 9 for Emirates Singapore Derby favourite

By the time it was jockey Vlad Duric's turn to pick the barrier position for the Mark Walker-trained Emirates Singapore Derby favourite Elite Invincible, there were only three outside draws left from a total of 17.

The reigning champion jockey picked the only single-digit draw left - No. 9, the best of the remaining possibilities for Sunday's $1.15 million Group 1 feature over 1,800m. It is Singapore's third richest race after the $1.5 million Kranji Mile and $1.35 million Singapore Gold Cup.

Duric said: "I wanted (a position) in the middle somewhere. I actually was thinking before the draw that I wouldn't mind a little speed to my inside, with Lim's Regard and Nepean there.

"You know, I could follow those horses beautifully and get a nice position, so it's a perfect barrier really for me."

Lim's Regard, who is Walker's third runner, drew gate 6 and the Shane Baertschiger-trained Nepean will jump from barrier 5.

French jockey Ryan Curatolo, who will pilot Lim's Regard, said: "As long as it's not on the outside, gate 6 will be good for me."

The clear favourite remains stablemate Elite Invincible, who Duric has partnered to win the first two legs of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, the $500,000 Group 2 Stewards' Cup (1,400m) and $1 million Group 1 Giovanni Racing Charity Bowl (1,600m).

The Australian placed the Irish-bred gelding handily in third to fourth spot early in both races before making his run in the straight to win.

There is no denying Elite Invincible has the class to capture the triple crown and Duric could not be happier with his mount's fitness going into the race but hopes rain will stay away.

"I worked him yesterday morning and he's in great order, so it just comes down to the day (and whether I) have a bit of luck. Hopefully, the rain stays away because he likes a bit of dry track. So, fingers crossed and hope everything turns out well in the end."

Michael Clements, the other trainer with three Derby candidates, was happy with the barrier draws for Countofmontecristo (No. 4), Za'eem (No. 8) and and Only Win (No. 16).

"Countofmontecristo, very good barrier 4. Obviously, he'll be able to run his usual race. Za'eem also has a good barrier and I think, if the track is wet, he may get a better chance. He likes it wet," said Clements.

"Only Win, well, he's got an outside barrier, but it's okay for him because he does get back.

"His last run wasn't one of his greatest. He got to the inside which didn't seem to suit him, so actually I'm quite happy he has drawn an outside barrier."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2018, with the headline 'Perfect for Elite Invincible'. Print Edition | Subscribe