A vintage ride from top Australian jockey Craig Williams and plenty of room were the key ingredients yesterday to Mr Clint’s gallant win in the $1 million (R10.9 million) Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup over 2000m.
Champion trainer Lee Freedman was certainly well inspired in flying in Australia’s current jockey with the Midas touch for the golden assignment. On Tuesday, Williams won the race that stops his nation, the Group 1 Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) with the Danny O’Brien-trained Vow And Declare at his 15th attempt.
Five days later, the 42-year-old Victorian rider was snaring a second Singapore Gold Cup, the island nation’s equivalent of the Melbourne Cup by virtue of its rich history as a handicap staying race, albeit its distance was shortened from 2200m to 2000m last year.
Williams captured Singapore’s time-honoured race for the first time in 2016 with the Stephen Gray-trained Bahana. “I now have two wins from three rides in the Gold Cup.
I finished out of the placings with the third (Sky Rocket, seventh last year), but this is special, and the jockey’s trophy is so big, we don’t get such big trophies for jockeys back home!” said an elated Williams.
“Lee was very confident with Mr Clint. He said he was going well, he was rock-hard fit and he didn’t tie me down to any instructions, he just told me this horse loves to have a lot of room.
The race panned out as planned. I got a nice spot in midfield on the outside and I just let him roll forward from the back, he just outstayed them in the end.
“I’d like to thank Lee for the fantastic opportunity. His confidence convinced me to fly over and I owe it to him as he gave me many big-race winners in the past, but most significantly, my first Group 1 winner, Grand Echezeaux in the Australasian Oaks at Morphe ville (in 2000).
“A big thank you to the owners (Oscar Racing Stable) for flying me up as it’s expensive. I’m also very fortunate to have my wife Larysa come up here from Australia, she’s my biggest supporter.”
Freedman said such a masterclass ride from a world-class jockey like Williams made all the difference when the stakes are high. “It’s been a good week, I was at the Melbourne Cup and saw Craig win and he’s now won the Gold Cup for me here.
It’s most incredible,” said the 2018 Singapore champion trainer. “Craig is an amazingly good jockey. He rode the perfect race, the way he is going, he could win the Arc de Triomphe!