Duric aims for triple Fortune, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Duric aims for triple Fortune

Bestseller gives Australian ace jockey a shot at a third, and last, Group 3 Fortune Bowl

Vlad Duric currently bookends the Group 3 Fortune Bowl honour roll with Goldschatz (2010) and Bold Thruster (2020).

The four-time Singapore champion jockey and winner of multiple Group 1 races is not one to keep tabs on such trivia.

But with Bestseller, the traditional Chinese New Year feature (formerly the Singapore Derby Trial before 2010) could usher him into the record books with another two feats.

Tied with Danny Beasley on the Fortune Bowl jockeys’ leaderboard with two wins apiece, a Bestseller win would vault him to the top as the outright record holder.

More poignantly, though, the Australian would also become the last winning jockey.

After the Group 3 New Year Cup (1,200m) on Jan 6, the $110,000 contest over 1,400m is the second of 15 feature races to be run in 2024 before Singapore racing bows out for good on Oct 5.

“I remember winning on Goldschatz, a nice black horse for Stephen Gray, and it was over 2,000m then. But I had to check the records for Bold Thruster,” said Duric, who is seven winners short of the 700-win milestone at Kranji.

“It’d be nice to win that race one last time. I’m riding Bestseller, who’s definitely among the top horses on my list, but he is not well weighted.”

On 86 points, the Ricardo Le Grange-trained Dream Ahead four-year-old ought to have been on the minimum weight of 50kg on handicap, with the highest-rated runner being Super Salute on 105 points at the top end of the scale.

But Bestseller’s gutsy Group 3 Colonial Chief (1,700m) victory at his last start on Dec 2 has ultimately come at a price.

The condition weights of the Fortune Bowl – also back after a three-year hiatus – call for an impost of 56kg for Group 2 and 3 winners.

While those terms may work against the lightly framed gelding, they work the other way for Duric.

“Ricky rang me some time back, around five to six weeks ago, and asked me what was my plan for that race,” said the heavyweight jockey, who missed out on Bestseller’s last-start win in the Group 3 Colonial Chief win on Dec 2 (Ronnie Stewart rode at 52.5kg).

“At first, I thought it was a handicap race and I couldn’t ride Bestseller at a low weight. But, because of the conditions of the race and he’s a Group 3 winner, he got in at 56kg.”

First-up from a 10-week spell is always a query, especially when he is tossed in against the big boys for the first time.

However, Duric said the Fortune Bowl was the perfect springboard towards longer-term objectives like the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1,800m) on July 21.

“He’s a promising horse. He’s coming back from a break and is kicking off his campaign heading towards the Derby,” he said.

“There haven’t been any real discussions with Ricky yet whether I will stay on him after Sunday, though. We’ll take it race by race.”

Even the short-term goal is not without a few hurdles – besides the long layoff – to overcome.

“He’s drawn wide (13 down to 11 after the scratchings), so we’ll need a bit of luck there,” said Duric.

“He’ll probably be better second-up in a race like the Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1,600m on March 9). Any race from 1,400m to 1,600m is perfect but I think he can get the Derby trip, too.

“I rode him in work three weeks ago. He worked nicely.

“I was in Ireland with my wife Storm when he trialled (Feb 1). Rozlan rode him and I saw the trial, he ran a nice third (to fellow Fortune Bowl runner Dream Alliance).

“He’s in a hot race with horses like Golden Monkey and Super Salute. Whatever he does, he’ll take a lot of benefit from it.”

Should Bestseller come up short, Duric – who just flew back from Ireland, hence his absence from the last Singapore meeting on Feb 3 – will look to his other five rides to pad up on his 2024 score.

One of them, Pacific MV is actually the last of his three 2024 winners, on Jan 27 when he claimed a Class 4 race (1,100m).

“Pacific MV has a good chance this week. I won on him at his last start,” said Duric, who rides the Headwater grey in the $50,000 Class 4 race (1,000m).

“I think Pacific Charm, and July in the Restricted Maiden also have some sort of chance.”