Derby winner Infantry lands Panasonic Kranji Mile

Infantry achieved a rare Singapore Derby-Kranji Mile double after he came with a sustained run to take out the $700,000 Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile (1600m) on Sunday.

The Tavistock five-year-old had actually not raced since his Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (2000m) triumph back in July, meaning he pulled off the remarkable feat with no runs in between.

The last horse to do the Singapore Derby-Kranji Mile double was the Laurie Laxon-trained and Noel Callow-ridden Top Spin in 2008.

Infantry (Manoel Nunes) outbattles Countofmontecristo (Glen Boss) to gain victory in the
Panasonic Kranji Mile, picture Singapore Turf Club

Trainer Alwin Tan, who was at his second Panasonic Kranji Mile win after War Affair landed the first Leg of the Singapore Triple Crown series back in 2014, was effusive in his praise of the versatile Thai-owned galloper at the post-race celebrations.

“Full credit to my team, the jockey and also the Thai owner who keeps supporting me, and today is our lucky day,” he said.

“This horse has such a big heart. Back on the 1600m after the Derby, I put the blinkers back on to sharpen him up a little.

“We didn’t want to force him, we didn’t want him to go too hard to the front and it’s paid off.”

Breaking from barrier No 9, Infantry was one of the early movers but was happy to ease back off the speed, in sixth spot, three wide but with cover as Forever Young (Benny Woodworth) won the speed battle upfront from Laughing Gravy (Craig Grylls).

As the leading duo set a decent clip in front, Infantry ($33) had the well-backed four-year-old and recent Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy winner Countofmontecristo (Glen Boss) in his sights throughout the race. The moment the Michael Clements-trained smart galloper was peeled out for his run at the top of the straight, Infantry was onto him like a rush.

It was those very two horses who would end up fighting out a battle royale in which they both broke away from the rest. One second, Countofmontecristo looked to have the wood, but under Nunes’ urgings, Infantry eventually gained the ascendancy before edging clear to post a half-length victory from a very gallant Countofmontecristo again, for what was a most tantalising finale to this year’s Kranji Mile renewal.

A few lengths behind, favourite and last year’s Kranji Mile winner Debt Collector (Michael Rodd), Lim’s Cruiser (Vlad Duric) and Majestic Moments (Barend Vorster) fought for third place, which in the end went to Debt Collector by a nose from Majestic Moments. Lim’s Cruiser had every chance but had to settle for fifth place another short-head away.

The winning time was 1min 35.8secs for the 1600m on the Short Course.

Winning connections smile for the camera, with stable manager Krit Chittaseni (fifth from left),
jockey Manoel Nunes and trainer Alwin Tan proudly displaying their trophies, picture Singapore Turf Club

Nunes said he had a good hunch he might be on a potential winner shortly after he jumped off Infantry following his winning barrier trial on September 21.

“I’m very happy. He’s a very good horse and can run any distance from 1200m to 1800m,” said Nunes who was at his first Panasonic Kranji Mile success.

“After his trial, when I came back, I was very happy as the horse was so well. Alwin and his boys have done a good job with him.

“Today was a very big test for him, especially as he was coming back from the Derby. Countofmontecristo is a very good horse but my horse was too good on the day.

“What he did today, there are no words to describe it. I’m very grateful and thankful for the opportunity.”

Tan had always believed Infantry would turn into a handy stayer even if his early career was forged over sprint races. Unsurprisingly, last year’s Singapore champion trainer is eyeing off the ultimate prize in staying races in November.

“He’ll definitely run in the Raffles Cup, and if he keeps doing well, we will look at the Triple Crown,” he said.

The second Leg of the Singapore Triple Crown series is the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1800m) on October 22 while the grand final is the Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) on November 12. No horse has yet to complete the Triple Crown, with Tan coming close in 2014 with War Affair sweeping the first two Legs before coming up short at the last Leg.

With that ninth win from only 20 starts, Infantry, who already had, besides the Singapore Derby, two other ‘black type’ wins to his credit, namely the Group 2 Merlion Trophy (1200m) and the Group 3 JBBA Moonbeam Vase (1800m), has now amassed just over $1.8 million in prizemoney.