‘The Count’ gets 15th rider
Apprentice jockey Nizar gets his chance on the Michael Clements-trained champion in Race 7 tomorrow
Yes, yet another rider - the 15th in a race - has been named for Countofmontecristo.
He is apprentice jockey M Nizar who, on Monday, was transferred from trainer Saimee Jumaat to trainer James Peters.
The 3kg claimer will hop aboard Countofmontecristo in tomorrow's $100,000 Kranji Stakes A race over 1,800m.
Nizar, however, had a feel of the horse before, when he rode it to finish third in a trial on Jan 2.
Last start on Feb 15, the high-riding French jockey Louis-Philippe Beuzelin rode the Michael Clements-trained six-year-old to victory in the Group 2 Chairman's Trophy over 1,600m.
Of the others, Glen Boss is most successful with five wins, followed by Mohd Zaki, Alan Munro and Daniel Moor with one apiece.
Countofmontecristo ticks all the right boxes for another successful outing tomorrow.
The nomination of Nizar takes 3kg off the Joe Giovanni-owned champion handicapped with the top impost of 59.5kg.
A long-time coffee shop talk favourite among racing fans, Countofmontecristo's musical chairs of jockeys barely raises an eyebrow these days.
Clements' assistant trainer, Michael White, for one, shrugs it off as trite overexposure in his usual deadpan tongue-in-cheek style.
"To be honest, anybody can ride this horse, both tactically - and physically," said White.
"Joe suggested Nizar for the 3kg claim and we were not against the idea. He's ridden for the owner before and won, like Gingerella.
"Nizar was actually meant to ride Countofmontecristo before, but with the big weight (59.5kg) this Saturday, he finally gets his chance. The 3kg claim makes him pretty well in at the weights."
White goes on to expound on other more salient factors that put the Echoes Of Heaven six-year-old in good stead for win No. 10.
"We've found a suitable race for him. It's a 1,800m race, which is more his caper now that he's an older horse," he said.
"When he was younger, we tapped on his early speed, but he loves this sort of longer distance now. It gets tricky after that, we don't really have a programme leading up to the Kranji Mile or the bigger races at the end of the year (Singapore Triple Crown series).
"He ran third in the Gold Cup last year. He obviously sees out the trip (2,000m), but it may be hard at the handicap.
"In the meantime, we'll just have to go back to the magic mystery box and come up with something."
The Group 1 Kranji Mile over 1,600m has this year been elevated to International Group 3 status and will be run on May 23.
The Singapore Triple Crown series is made up of the Group 1 Raffles Cup over 1,600m on Sept 19, the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup over 1,800m on Oct 17 and the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup over 2,000m on Nov 7.