Troy See will be the new jockey to take over the reins aboard Countofmontecristo in the $1.15 million Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (1800m) on Sunday.
The current leading apprentice jockey becomes the ninth rider to partner the 2017 Singapore champion three-year-old, effectively making him the eighth jockey engaged in the last 10 months.
Glen Boss and Countofmontecristo formed a formidable duo at the height of the gelding’s career during his prolific three-year-old campaign last year, with the Australian Hall of Fame jockey scoring at five of his seven wins.
Countofmontecristo's form has dipped of late but Troy See relishes the challenge of riding him in the
Singapore Derby, picture Singapore Turf Club
But it was soon Splitsville with reasons ranging from the usual “the other horse” – in this case Lim’s Cruiser who went on to win the third Leg of the Singapore Sprint Series, the Group 1 Lion City Cup – to the less usual, a best friend’s wedding.
The first replacement rider, Alan Munro, did win on the son of Echoes Of Heaven in the Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m) last September, but the win-meter has hung since.
Big names like Manoel Nunes, Michael Rodd, William Pike and Ryan Curatolo have since jumped in the plate, but none have succeeded.
Curatolo, the last partner in the Group 1 Giovanni Racing Charity Bowl (1600m) when a fading fifth to Elite Invincible, was meant to keep the steering job in the Derby, but he had already given the nod to Mark Walker for the ride on Lim’s Regard.
With most of the senior jockeys having already been booked in the capacity 16-horse field, the search for a new partner was made even harder, but Clements and owner Joe Giovanni didn’t have to “See” too far afield any longer.
The young man was obviously pleased with the last-minute nod, while at the same time relishing the challenge of sparking some form back in the talented galloper.
“I only found out I was riding Countofmontecristo yesterday. I’ve not ridden a lot for the owner before, but I do remember winning on Minah Current for him and Sonny Yeoh around six years ago (October 12, 2012),” said See.
“He is the highest rated horse in the Derby and has always shown a lot of ability, but it’s also true that in recent runs, the results have not been as encouraging as one would hope.
“Mike told me he was happy with the horse, but he just could have done a bit better at his recent races.
“I’ve watched his race replays, and it looks to me that his best races were in sprints and by racing handy, but I’ll leave it to Mike to tell me how to ride him in the Derby.”
See will not be able to claim his usual one-kilo allowance in the Derby, and in the other feature race on Friday night, the $325,000 Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) where he rides the Alwin Tan-trained and Thai-owned Galvarino.
See rode the son of Stryker to fourth place at his debut in the third Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series for two-year-olds, the IRT Juvenile Stakes (1200m), but the hotheaded gelding drew the ire of the Stewards for his barrier antics. He had to go back to school and pass a barrier test before being allowed to race again.
He won one last week and ran fifth to Key Success on Tuesday, with See aboard on both occasions.
“He’s young and erratic. It’s hard to calm his nerves,” said See.
“But he’s got the ability as you could see from his good fourth on debut. He was shifting in and out, but he still came home good.
“To me, he’ll become a very good three-year-old.”