No stopping Relentless in Stewards’ Cup
Second Group win for trainer Fitzsimmons and big-race comeback win for jockey Duric
Sunday’s $150,000 Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1,600m) was billed as a two-horse race between Lim’s Kosciuszko and Tiger Roar, but it was third-elect Relentless who sneaked in to snare the top prize.
Leading trainer Tim Fitzsimmons, who is just fresh off his first Group success with Golden Monkey in the Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1,200m) eight days earlier, deservedly takes the lion’s share of the credit for his patience and unwavering faith in the son of Hallowed Crown.
But comeback jockey and former four-time Singapore champion jockey Vlad Duric also had a significant input in the $47 shot lowering the boom of the two favourites.
While Lim’s Kosciuszko (Danny Beasley) burned the candle at both ends after beating the widest alley to set a searing pace up front, Tiger Roar (Bernardo Pinheiro) was conversely too far back at the rear.
In contrast, Duric had found the happy medium for Relentless. Despite an awkward draw, the Australian ace was able to tuck his mount beside the rails in fifth, neither too close nor too far.
That was to be the key to success. Once Relentless was peeled to the outside, he quickly presented as the fresh horse on the scene.
Lim’s Kosciuszko was running on fumes. For all his bravery, he could not foil the “relentless” orange machine set in motion on his outside.
A three-quarter length was the winning margin for the well-timed victory while third place eventually went to Tiger Roar. Left with too much to do when spotting ahead Lim’s Kosciuszko eight lengths upon straightening, he still did his best work to cut down the winning margin to three lengths.
The winning time was 1min 34.5sec for the turf mile on the short course.
“I thought the wide barrier was going to make it difficult for him,” said Fitzsimmons.
“I had a discussion with Vlad and we decided to roll the dice by going forward. I told Vlad if we drop among the last, we have no chance.
“As soon as he got onto the fence, I was quietly confident he will be in the top three because he’s a superior stayer. He’s a 2,000m horse, he will always keep going.
“I have been praying for rain, but it didn’t come. It was a hard track.
“But they did go along in front, and the leader was always going to be vulnerable. Vlad rode the perfect race, he waited for the right moment to pull him out for his run.”
After three earlier unsuccessful rides at the first day of a short four-week licence, Duric could not have waited for a better moment to pull the rabbit out of the hat.
“He drew a terrible barrier but we were able to get the fence. They were going at a good gallop in front,” he said.
“My horse idled off the bridle. I was confident from a long way out.
“Lim’s Kosciuszko was in front and he’s been so dominant, but we got him late.”
Duric, who suddenly pulled the pin on Singapore at the end of last year mainly through health issues, knows the Stewards’ Cup – his second after Elite Invincible in 2019 – was only an appetiser.
“All the discussions have been about the Derby being his grand final. The long course will be in his favour,” said Duric, whose licence runs up to the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1,800m) on July 17.
“It may be tactical if it’s a tiny little field, it will depend on how things pan out.
“This little horse, I remember when I won on him once. The boys then told me he could be a Derby horse if he keeps improving.
“When I got on him today, I was like ‘gee he’s improved’. Tim’s done a great job.”
A second Derby beckons the Caulfield Cup-winning jockey.
From his 30 Group victories in Singapore, 12 came at Group 1 level, with the highlight being the Singapore Derby aboard Top Knight in 2020.
Sunday's Singapore Results: sunres27.pdf