18 September 2018

Excalibur gives Brown double edge in Raffles

Debt Collector’s stablemate Elite Excalibur is anything but just a back-up for trainer Cliff Brown in his bid to land a third consecutive Group 1 Raffles Cup (1600m) on Sunday.

The Australian handler is happy with both horses going into the feature race which is now the first Leg of the Singapore Triple Crown series. He won that race when it was the middle pin with Debt Collector in 2016 and the late Gilt Complex last year.

As usual, Brown wouldn’t split his Raffles Cup duo even if 2016 Singapore Horse of the Year Debt Collector is likely to garner slightly more support, especially after his flying second to Preditor in the Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m) on August 12, first-up from a 10-month break that included a five-month spell in Australia.

Elite Excalibur, who won the Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1600m) in March, also recently made his comeback in the Group 3 Moonbeam Vase (1600m) on September 2, but after a shorter break of three months (since his disappointing run in the Invitational Group 1 Kranji Mile). He also put the writing on the wall with a pleasing fifth to Nova Strike under first-time partner Craig Grylls.

Both Debt Collector and Elite Excalibur will this time run at level weights as opposed to condition weights at their first-up runs.

“Elite Excalibur has trained on very well after his Moonbeam Vase race. That first run was very good,” said Brown.

“He was going over a mile off one trial and you had to be pleased with such a run.

“He’s pulled up very well and will be a fitter horse going into the Raffles Cup. He’ll have his final gallop tomorrow.

“Debt Collector has also been working well and trialled very well last week. I couldn’t be happier with both horses.”

With Rodd unsurprisingly sticking with Debt Collector, Brown has again booked Grylls on Elite Excalibur.

When asked if the Fastnet Rock six-year-old would chart the same path as last year’s in the Singapore Triple Crown series, Brown, who captured his first Singapore Gold Cup with Gilt Complex last year, said he would rather take it one race at a time.

Last year, Elite Excalibur made up for an ordinary ninth to Infantry in the Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile (1600m) by producing two super runs in the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1800m) and Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) when second and third respectively to stablemate Gilt Complex.

“It all depends on how he performs in the Raffles Cup, and that goes for Debt Collector, too. I’m never one to get ahead of myself,” said Brown.

The Raffles Cup is now the first Leg of the revamped Singapore Triple Crown series and has been shortened to the mile. It is now followed by the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m) on October 21 with the Singapore Gold Cup still the grand final but dropped to 2000m instead, on November 11.

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Image: Singapore Turf Club