Redemption for Mr Clint

Mr Clint (right), ridden by Melbourne Cup winning jockey Craig Williams, galloping to victory in the Dester Singapore Gold Cup at Kranji yesterday
Mr Clint (right), ridden by Melbourne Cup winning jockey Craig Williams, galloping to victory in the Dester Singapore Gold Cup at Kranji yesterday ST PHOTO: SALWA SUANDI

Unlucky loser finally sheds bridesmaid tag; jockey Williams captures second Gold Cup

Mr Clint, unlucky in defeat in a couple of recent Group 1 feature races, scored a deserving victory in the $1 million Dester Singapore Gold Cup yesterday - thanks to a rider who could "walk on water this week".

The decision to engage top Australian jockey Craig Williams certainly paid off handsomely for Singapore champion trainer Lee Freedman and Oscar Racing Stable.

A masterful ride from the jockey for the big occasions saw the more positively ridden Mr Clint winning the 2,000m Kranji classic by 3/4 lengths from $176 outsider Gold Strike. Third, half a length away in the capacity field of 16, was the topweight Countofmontecristo.

Only last Tuesday, Williams was the toast of Australia, riding Vow And Declare to capture the Melbourne Cup. Mr Clint was the second Singapore Gold Cup winner for the eight-time Melbourne champion, who won with the Stephen Gray-trained Bahana in 2016.

The $14 favourite I'm Incredible finished ninth. At the barrier, there was some anxious moments when the Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner was taken out and trotted before the vet. Champion jockey Vlad Duric remounted and the horse was reloaded into Gate 11.

Another of the favourites, King Louis ($23), was eighth.

Mr Clint, who won the Group 1 Singapore Guineas in May last year, saw his form taper off after running third in last year's Gold Cup. But the five-year-old showed a return to form in his recent starts and was unlucky in his Group 1 attempts.

He was beaten by a neck in the Singapore Derby over 1,800m on July 21. He followed up with a nose second in the Raffles Cup over 1,600m on Sept 22. Last start in the Queen Elizabeth II, he finished a dismal 12th. He returned lame off-fore.

He had Brazilian jockey Bernardo Pinheiro aboard in all his three earlier Group 1 bids.

Freedman, a multiple Group 1-winning trainer, including five Melbourne Cup wins, said Mr Clint had turned his form around in the lead-ups.

"Then, of course, he had that setback before the last race, and I thought the ride was appalling," said the Australian Hall of Famer.

"That's why I changed jockeys. Thank god I did, because this guy can walk on water this week.

"But this horse, since his Guineas, had no luck. He's had a few leg troubles, he's had a few issues. He was unlucky not to win last year's Cup. Today, just given the most incredibly good ride and it showed what a good horse he can be."

Williams parked Mr Clint further than midfield early but started his move from the 800m mark. His horse overtook the leader, last year's winner Elite Invincible, shortly after straightening.

From there, the $31 chance kept up a bright gallop for a deserving victory.

Williams paid tribute to Freedman and the team for preparing Mr Clint to be a great competitor but he saved the best words for his good mate, Duric.

"I would like to thank Vlad Duric. Before I ever took the ride in Singapore, I asked him. He told me 'if I was not on my horse, I would be on yours', and he got me the ride on," said Williams.

"So I'm indebted to one of my best mates. We were both apprenticed to my father the same time. Now he's the champion jockey here and he'll do it again."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2019, with the headline 'Redemption for Mr Clint'. Print Edition | Subscribe