Kranji top duo bound for Australia, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Kranji top duo bound for Australia

Debt Collector will stay Down Under for good, while Countofmontecristo will return to Singapore after competing there

Two of Kranji's top gallopers - Debt Collector and Countofmontecristo - will head for Australia soon.

The pair, who finished fourth and fifth respectively in Saturday's $1.5 million Group 1 Kranji Mile, will be put in pre-export quarantine on June 6 and will leave the same month.

The difference in the two is that Debt Collector will stay on in Australia for good, while Countofmontecristo will race in several big races there and return to Singapore after that.

Debt Collector, Kranji's highest-rated horse at 122 points, pulled up with respiratory distress after the Kranji Mile, won for the second successtive time by Hong Kong's Southern Legend.

His connections gathered around for a discussion shortly after and decided there and then their champion galloper had run his last race in Singapore, bringing up a premature end to a glittering career that has seen him rack up 12 wins and four placings in 24 starts.

His impressive record included five at Group 1 level, two at Group 2 and one at Group 3 and more than $3.1 million in prize money. He also claimed the Singapore Horse of the Year honours in 2016.

Trainer Cliff Brown, in consultation with Glenn Whittenbury, principal owner of Barree Racing Stable, who was on hand to watch the Kranji Mile run, have made the joint decision to send the Thorn Park six-year-old to Mornington trainer Jim Conlan's Pinecliff Farm.

The one-way ticket signals a different approach this time.

In 2018, after his overall 2017 performances took a bit of a nosedive, Debt Collector took a five-month break at the Newhaven Farm in the Hunter Valley, before returning to Singapore in May to resume his stellar career.

The result was a resounding success. He scored four times, including the Group 1 level Raffles Cup (1,600m) and Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1,800m).

The wind issues are more serious this time, but Debt Collector might not be lost to racing - yet. If he does recover and returns to racing, it will be in Australia.

"He's been a wonderful horse to us, but he wasn't his best on Saturday. He still ran the quickest last 400m, but he wasn't the same horse, and Michael (Rodd) said the same thing," said Brown.

"We'll see how he comes along. If he tells us he doesn't want to be a racehorse any more, then we'll be happy to retire him as he fully deserves it."

Countofmontecristo's owner Joe Giovanni said he had already planned the trip for his former Singapore Three-Year-Old champion way before the race.

"Count pulled up good after the race. He has no issue, but I had already planned to send him to Australia for a break and then race him there, even if he had won the Kranji Mile," said Giovanni. "There are not any feature races on the short course in Singapore. There'll be better opportunities for him in Australia, where he will race on different tracks, and he can be more competitive."

His Michael Clements-trained money-spinner will be with Kris Lees in Melbourne.

"Kris will find suitable races for him there and, if he does well, they will hopefully be nice lead-up races to some Group races in August.

"He will then have a freshen-up and then go to Perth for the two Group races in November (Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes over 1,200m) and December.

"He will then take a break for two months before coming back to Mike in Singapore."