Kranji salutes Debt Collector
The $8 favourite wins in his all-too-familiar style
What we saw yesterday was an assassin at work. Cool, calm, cunning and deadly.
That was Debt Collector who claimed the Chairman's Trophy.
We all said he would do it. We talked about it. Wrote about it. In dreams, we probably saw the race being run exactly the way it panned out yesterday.
But it still brought a lump to the throat.
Earlier, when we watched him in the parade ring, we knew him from all the bays, browns and blacks. He had this presence. And he brought that trait to the race. That of the quiet assassin.
Debt Collector had, as everyone expected, run a blinder over the final 250m of the 1,600m contest. That, after lolling around in the rear for most of the trip. It was, again, a brilliant, barnstorming gallop.
But that's him. That's the way he likes it. That's how he gets things done.
And yesterday, his rider, jockey Michael Rodd paid his mount the greatest compliment a horseman could accord a racer.
He said: "Debt Collector is one of those horses we really wake up for."
Yesterday, Debt Collector was the star and he proved to us that horses like him gave the game theatre - and the divine madness we witnessed in the stands.
If Rodd praised his mount to the sky, the racing public also accorded the six-year-old the ultimate compliment.
They backed him down to unbettable odds, sending him off as the $8 favourite.
And when he began his charge at the 250m mark, there were no bums on seats. Everyone was up and cheering him on. Perhaps, they knew, they were witnessing something special. A performance par excellence.
Then again, Debt Collector winning the Group 2, $500,000 Chairman's Trophy was not the story. We knew he would.
It has, so far, been a terrific journey. The story must now be on the rest of that odyssey and how it will continue for the horse, his trainer Cliff Brown, the owners - Baree Stable - and jockey Michael Rodd.
I believe it can only get better.
Earlier in the day, Benny Woodworth showed us, yet again, why he is so deadly accurate when he's astride a frontrunner. We saw that in the third event when Woodworth, riding Ancient Warrior, made every post a winning one.
It wasn't an easy task, especially over the 1,700m. But Woodworth rode a copybook front-running race.
He led by two at the 1,200m mark and still had a handy lead when they straightened for the long trek home.
Indeed, had he, at the 300m mark, taken a look behind to see who was coming, all he would have seen was the pack dropping back. Yes, like a thief in the night, the $111 roughie had stolen the race from under the noses of some really fancied rivals.
Woodworth would go on to win the fifth with Sacred Croix. But unike that win on Ancient Warrior, Sacred Croix ($27) had to come with a pulverising run from off midfield to take the chocolates.
It prompted winning trainer Mark Walker to say:
"The way he's riding these days, Woodworth can win on a broomstick."
And so say all of us.
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