Trainer Cliff Brown could not have been happier with Elite Excalibur’s barrier trial on Tuesday, 10 days ahead of his next Group mission.
After coming close in some of Singapore’s biggest races like the Singapore Gold Cup and Raffles Cup, the Fastnet Rock five-year-old finally cracked it for his first Group win in the Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1600m) on March 18.
The former Gai Waterhouse-trained three-time Sydney winner (when known as River Wild for Coolmore) is gunning for another mile feature on April 27, the $500,000 Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) – and if things go to plan, a crack at the prelude to the return of International races in Singapore: the $1.5 million Group 1 Kranji Mile on May 26 may well be on the cards.
Trainer Cliff Brown said Elite Excalibur deserved to win a big race, picture Singapore Turf Club
Brown is as usual not jumping the gun, though. The Chairman’s Trophy first, and then maybe go the “extra Mile”.
“He had a very good run in the Committee’s Prize. Everything went right for him while there were some hard-luck stories for some other horses,” said the Australian handler.
“He trialled very well this morning. He’s fit and healthy, he may or may not have a gallop next week, and we’ll see how we go next week (Chairman’s Trophy).
“If he runs well, he may well go to the Kranji Mile next, we’ll see. This horse deserves a big win as he’s always been in such consistently good form.
“He ran second twice in two big races, the Patron’s Bowl (to Alibi) and the Raffles Cup (to Gilt Complex), and then he ran third in the Gold Cup (to Gilt Complex).”
While Elite Excalibur brings his A-game to the races, he is a little less productive in his barrier trials, but regular partner Michael Rodd made sure he knuckled down to the task on Tuesday.
Settled in the middle of a bunched-up field, Elite Excalibur looked at first content to amble in behind leader Charger (Olivier Placais) and Ode To Joy (Glen Boss) all the way to the line, but Rodd then drove him to the inside, switching him on with a couple of reminders from his whip.
Elite Excalibur responded well to the last-minute squeeze to run second only a nose away from Charger for the closest finish he has ever figured in at Kranji barrier trials.