Duric happy to have proven stayer under him in Gold Cup

Leading jockey Vlad Duric has picked up the plum ride on Blue Swede in the $1.35 million Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) next Sunday.

The Australian heavyweight jockey initially thought he would be watching the handicap feature from the jockeys’ room. Since history has shown over the years only a handful are allotted more than 54-55 kilos, Duric’s only hope resided in a horse weighted above that mark.

When trainer Shane Baertschiger approached him for the ride on Blue Swede, Duric accepted with both hands, though he had to wait for the weights before giving the final nod. With a rating of 93, the O’Reilly seven-year-old sits in the borderline area.

Blue Swede, who was then ridden by Glen Boss, at his last win on July 9, picture Singapore Turf Club

As it turned out, Panasonic Kranji Mile winner Infantry takes pride of place as the highest-rated entry on 109 points, and with the handicap rule of four points to a kilo instead of the usual two, Blue Swede gets 53.5kgs (16 points which equates to four kilos off Infantry’s 57.5kgs), which sees Duric squeeze through.

“I still have to ride him half-a-kilo over, but it’s confirmed, I’m on Blue Swede in the Gold Cup,” said Duric.

“I’ve never ridden him before, but I’ve watched his races, and to me, he’s a horse who fits the bill perfectly for the Gold Cup. He’s in the top half of horses with a chance in the race.

“I galloped him with Elite Star this morning and he gave me a lovely ride. We know he stays, he ran on for third in the El Dorado Classic (2200m) and last year, he ran third to Bahana in the Gold Cup, so no worries with the trip.

“The Gold Cup will be a stretch for other horses, but he stays really well. With a bit of luck in the running, he should be in with a good chance.

“I’m really rapt with my ride as I think he’s one of the better proven stayers this year.”

Trainer Shane Baertschiger’s assistant-trainer Scott Bailey said Blue Swede has pulled up well after his flashing third to Secret Win in the Group 3 El Dorado Classic on October 22.

“He’s in good form. At home, he is one of the most difficult horses to handle, but that’s him, he hasn’t changed after all these years,” said the Australian.

“Somehow, he doesn’t run so well in those Group races, but when you least expect him, he pops up in those Kranji Stakes A’s. We’ll see how he goes this time.”

Duric and Baertschiger do not team up so often, but they were able to seal their first and only win together with Faaltless on September 22.

“It’d be good to get the next one for Stretch (Baertschiger’s nickname) in the big one,” said Duric with a smile.