With the slew of quality three-year-olds trainer Cliff Brown has been rolling out in the last six months or so, jockey Michael Rodd knew he would be confronted with a happy headache at some stage.
At the first Leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge, the Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m) on March 26, the Australian jockey picked Sir Isaac over the Olympian Stable pair of Draco and Deimos. They were not so hard to split even if he had won on Draco and had partnered Deimos a few times, as he knew Sir Isaac a lot better for having ridden him at six of his eight starts for one win.
It was a five-way toss-up but Sir Isaac retained Michael Rodd's preference for Friday, picture Singapore Turf Club
The son of Dream Ahead duly repaid his faith, even if he did not win, by finishing the best among the Brown threesome – 1 ¼-length third to the unbeaten Countofmontecristo.
Come the second Leg, this Friday’s $350,000 Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic (1400m), the plot has, however, thickened for Rodd.
Brown has thrown in two more three-year-olds to make it a quintet of runners: Could Be Pearls, with whom Rodd boasts two wins, not to mention a dash of sentimentality – he is raced by the Barree Stable, the owners of Singapore champion Debt Collector, Rodd’s winning partner in last year’s 3YO Challenge - and Mr Fatkid, whom he steered to a convincing win in Class 4 company at his last start.
The fact that Draco’s last-start rider Gerald Mosse has gone back to France did not help either.
The status as Brown’s jockey with the right to first refusal does come with perks, but Rodd said it was no cut-and-dried decision process before he finally plumped for Sir Isaac.
“It was a very tough decision to choose among Cliffy’s five horses in the 3YO race. I’ve galloped all of them, played a part in all of them,” said Rodd.
“I guess I will be playing a part in their future, too. They will all become Group horses all the way through their careers.
“But unfortunately, I can’t ride them all in one race. I’m very grateful to Cliffy for giving me plenty of time to think it through, and after much weighing up, I’ve picked Sir Isaac.”
Rodd said it was Sir Isaac’s exposed form to the calibre of horses in Friday’s race and his close third to Countofmontecristo that swung it for him.
“Sir Isaac has already proven himself at this level and to me, he’s got the right qualities to win that race. He ran a close 1 ¼-length third to Countofmontecristo in the first Leg,” he said.
“Macarthur led and Countofmontecristo was second and just sat outside the leader. My horse warmed up nicely but the first two had a soft run in front.
“Sir Isaac had a nice barrier trial last Thursday (second to Parliament). He always does well in his barrier trials.
“But he will have to step it up to not just Countofmontecristo but also to Jupiter Gold.”
Rodd said that Sir Isaac, who races in the same apricot silks worn by Brown’s Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner Laughing Gravy, did prove a bit tricky early doors, but has evolved in the right direction with more racing experience.
“He was a bit difficult to ride, but he keeps getting better and better,” said Rodd.
“He tends to get on the bridle and then he will sprint home. He can really run nice sectionals.