Debt Collector stares at stardom
Singapore Racing Awards 2016
Say what you like. DEBT COLLECTOR shouldn't be so good. But he's not the first horse to buck the science of genetics. And tonight should see him crowned king - or, as is the case in this sport, Singapore's Horse of the Year.
Yes, the votes - which were secret - have been cast. The ballots counted. All that's left is to reveal the winner of the top accolade.
And all will be done tonight when the glamorous, the glitterati and that gaggle of horsemen gather at the Fullerton Hotel to toast their champions.
In Hollywood, it's called the Academy Awards. Here, it's the Racing Awards. An event put together by the Association of Racehorse Trainers Singapore, it honours the best in the business - two-legged and four.
And, as always, the highlight of the evening will be the crowning of the Horse of the Year.
Which brings us back to Debt Collector.
Usually, we wouldn't dare stick our necks out for fear of being decapitated when proven wrong. But now we're going to be brave and simply because, by our reckoning, the season just ended belonged to him.
Take away those three initial runs when he didn't make the board, his charge to hero status began at the tail end of 2015 when he opened his Kranji account. Since then, there has been no stopping him.
Beginning in April last year when he won a Class 4 event over the 1,400m, Debt Collector has been collecting prize cheques which steadily grew in size.
We particularly liked that win in the Singapore Three Year Old Classic run in late April.
Coming three weeks after that win in Class 4, racegoers gave him the cold shoulder. As it turned out, the $94 urchin beat the aristocrats.
So much for being under the radar. Just like that, roles were reversed. Everyone wanted to be friends with the "Ah Long". And, like some of the great ones before him, he soon had his own fan club.
Tonight, we will honour an array of champions. Two legs and four. The nominees read like a who's who of racing.
As for the four-legged, they're mere marvels. The ultimate heroes. They're the ones who did great. And, needless to say, their exploits helped elevate the sport to the extent that, on any given raceday, there will always be a constant flow of patrons coming through Kranji's turnstiles.
Rocket Man, War Affair and Spalato were some of those we have stored in our memory banks. We reckon, tonight at the iconic Fullerton Hotel, Debt Collector will join that exclusive club.