Look, I'm Incredible, Committee's Prize is mine
Baertschiger's lowest-rated runner benefits from 50kg handicap for fairytale Group 3 success
With the lowest rating of 69 in the field of 10, it was like sending a boy to do a man's job in yesterday's $175,000 Group 3 Committee's Prize over 1,600m at Kranji.
But the beauty of horse racing is anything can happen. You just have to be in it to win it. Lady Luck can smile at you at times.
It did for new kid on the block I'm Incredible yesterday - in a big and incredulous way.
With bottomweight of 50kg and a confident ride by jockey A'Isisuhairi Kasim, I'm Incredible's commanding victory against horses rated from 84 to 99 (within the Class 1 rating band) was truly one of those fascinating tales of the turf.
To say the least, if there was a longer list of Committee's Prize entries, the Shane Baertschiger-trained five-year-old Australian-bred might probably not have secured a berth in the handicap race, like for the Singapore Gold Cup.
Of course, recent form is also a top consideration. This, I'm Incredible has, but his last two wins were only in Kranji Stakes D and in Class 4.
So it was certainly a big jump to run against Class 1 horses in not a normal but feature race.
Many quarters, including I'm Incredible's connections, Doha Stable which is headed by Tampines Rovers Football Club chairman Desmond Ong, thought that Baertschiger was too ambitious for entering the horse in the Committee's Prize.
But it was too hard to pass - I'm Incredible was in incredibly good form and he was handicapped in a race which the bottomweights have a good record.
Six past winners also carried 50kg in 19 editions; three shouldered 50.5kg and two had 51kg.
"When I said this race was earmarked, it raised eyebrows and they thought I was crazy. But it has worked out well," said a smiling Baertschiger, whose father Don won the inaugural running in 2000 with Con Air.
"It's good to see Desmond get his first Group winner, you know. He has been supporting me and my father for a long time."
Said an elated Ong: "For once, I'm speechless. I just write the cheques. Credit to Shane and the people at the stable, you know, for looking after the horse day in, day out.
"I think for the last two furlongs (400m), he was just slapping me with the racebook, as if I was the horse."
A'Isisuhairi jumped I'm Incredible cleanly from Barrier 4 and was expected to lead. But CC Wong beat him to it on the Hideyuki Takaoka-trained last-start winner Makanani.
Makanani tried to steal the race to give his trainer a third Committee's Prize - after Diamond Dust in 2006 and Keep Away in 2012 - by streaking to an eight-length lead at the halfway mark.
I'm Incredible, the surprise $26 second favourite, was second, accompanied by McGregor. Then came Loyalty Man and Sky Rocket.
The $15 favourite King Louis with seventh. Last-start Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy winner Star Emperor was a long last.
Makanani was still well clear on straightening but started to tire from the 200m mark.
A'Isisuhairi got to work on I'm Incredible. He closed in with every stride. The chestnut Australian gelding hit the front 150m out for a 11/2-length win.
Makanani held on stubbornly for second, half a length ahead of the late-closing Star Emperor.
The winning time was 1min 34.40sec on the Long Course A.
A'Isisuhairi, who has had his fair share of Group successes, said: "I've been waiting for this one for a long time. I've been counting every single year for a Group win but not this year, and it happened today.
"You know, I must say he's an improving horse. He won his last two starts and, today, I was pretty confident with him with a light weight and he had a nice draw.
"The idea was to lead on him. But, when I saw Jimmy Wong on the outside, I just had to ride my own race at that point, you know. I know this horse has got a good turn of foot.
"So, on the long course, I just waited for as long as I could and I always believe, on the top of the straight, I got plenty in hand.
"So, when I let him down, he really kicked. Like I've said, he has got a good turn of foot."