King Of Sixty-One should rule again
Fitzsimmons’ stayer in form but Ong’s Top Field and Roda Robot the threats
Any race coming so soon after the thrilling Singapore Gold Cup will be a tough act to follow – especially if it is over the Cup distance of 2,000m.
That duel up the straight between Lim’s Kosciuszko and Dream Alliance on Nov 11 and the aftermath are still fresh in the mind.
It is still talked about in kopitiams, over beers at pubs and, for that matter, any place where racegoers gather to trade stories.
And it still gives them palpitations.
Yes, the Gold Cup is a tough one to emulate.
That said, the “main” event coming up on Nov 18 has few frills.
It is a Class 4 race with stake money of $50,000.
But it is over the Cup trip of 2,000m and, in this late stage of the season where “titles” are won and lost, it is shaping up to be a nail-biter.
The two contenders for the trainer’s title – Jason Ong and Tim Fitzsimmons – are well represented.
Defending champion Fitzsimmons, who sits in second spot with 51 winners this season, saddles King Of Sixty-One.
Much like “Kosi” in the Gold Cup, he shoulders the top weight.
Ong, who leads the trainers’ log with 56 winners including a double on Gold Cup Day, will launch a three-pronged attack with Fighter, Top Field and Roda Robot.
Two of them were out on the training track on Nov 14 morning and, while not seriously tested, they turned in smart gallops.
Top Field went over the 600m in an easy 40.1sec while Roda Robot strode over the same trip in 40.2.
Not to be outdone, Fitzsimmons’ KIng Of Sixty-One was also in his element.
With Vlad Duric having him on a nice hold, he covered the training distance in 41.1.
Not noted for lightning speed, the three workouts – though in the 40sec bracket – were indicative of the form these horses will carry into the contest on Nov 18.
Yes, the battle lines have been drawn. Down to the wire, it is Fitzsimmons versus Ong. Let the fight begin.
Like his two rivals, King Of Sixty-One has won over the 2,000m.
That was as recent as Sept 23 when, under Duric, he led from pillar to post.
Not only that, he truly romped in, beating Winning Stride by a massive 4½ lengths.
It was a true “staying” show and it gave King Of Sixty-One his first and sole win at Kranji, which has been his “place of residence” since arriving from Ireland on Sept 17, 2022.
At his last start, which was an 1,800m race on Oct 14, King Of Sixty-One was red hot. Punters backed him down to $7 on the win tote.
But his fan club took a massive hit when he could only finish third to $94 outsider Prioritize.
Well, that was then. Now is now.
And in King Of Sixty-One, Fitzsimmons and the horse’s connections know they have a really good one for the upcoming assignment.
Indeed, on form, he could be the runner leading the field home over the Gold Cup trip.
Ong’s pair of Top Field and Roda Robot will have something to say about that.
The win over the 2,000m on Aug 27 gave Top Field his second career victory and set him up for a run which saw him string together two more wins heading into the one on Nov 18.
However, this is the thing.
Top Field’s good run of wins has earned him a promotion. It sounds like a good thing but it is not.
For the first time in his career, he has to take on Class 4 opposition and he may find it tough as he tries for his fifth win on the spin.
Then again, he has a feather weight of just 52kg on his back and, when push comes to shove, this weight pull on King Of Sixty-One, who must shoulder a hefty 59kg, could make all the difference.
As for Roda Robot, his win over the 2,000m also came on Aug 27 and, on the day, he beat the $10 race favourite and the big danger on Nov 18, King Of Sixty-One.
However, just when things looked like they were coming up roses, Roda Robot then hit some bumps along the road and he failed to make the board at his next five outings.
But it looks like Ong has got him humming again. His last two runs have produced a second on Oct 28 and a third on Nov 4.
Both were on the Polytrack which, frankly, is not his favourite racing surface.
Back on the grass and over the 2,000m, we could see him emerge a different horse – maybe even a winning one.