15 March 2018

Rodd counting on solid first up record for Excalibur

Top jockey Michael Rodd is brimming with confidence ahead of the Cliff Brown-trained Elite Excalibur’s racing comeback in the $200,000 Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1600m) on Sunday.

The Fastnet Rock five-year-old has not been sighted since his brilliant third to his late stablemate Gilt Complex in the Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) last November.

Rodd, the only jockey to have scored aboard Elite Excalibur (known as River Wild in Sydney where he won three races between 1200m and 1400m for Coolmore and Gai Waterhouse) at Kranji (two wins over 1400m), was not aboard in the Gold Cup.

Michael Rodd combines with Elite Excalibur for their second success on May 14, 2017.

He actually rode the winner Gilt Complex (who had to be euthanased after breaking down at his last race in Dubai on Saturday night) while Elite Excalibur was ridden by Glen Boss.

Back in work for a while, Elite Excalibur has gradually been improving on his racing fitness, getting his finishing touches in two barrier trials when he had Rodd aboard on both occasions.

The Australian jockey could not wait to reunite with the horse he last rode when seventh in the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (2000m) last July, even if, as usual, he did not do any cartwheels after his two trials.

Elite Excalibur ran last at his first trial on February 14, but did improve with a fourth place at his second trial on March 1, only 2.3L off Friday’s iRACE Classic winner Super Fortune.

“The horse is happy in himself, but his trials were only fair. He’s a bit of a bludger in his trials,” said Rodd.

“I wish he did more, but he’s always been unenthusiastic when he comes to such hit-outs. He’s a clean-winded horse and doesn’t need much work, anyway."

Rodd, who also partnered Elite Excalibur at two of his five unsuccessful starts in Dubai last year, will be counting on his better behaviour on raceday as well as his excellent first-up record.

“He will be first-up on Sunday and he goes well fresh. He’s two from two for me (both wins scored first-up from a break), and should be a genuine chance with 56kgs on his back,” said Rodd.

“He is very consistent and never puts in a bad run. The only time he did was in the Kranji Mile when Debt Collector (Rodd’s ride) ran third.

“In the Gold Cup, the gate cost him. He had to be used early, but he still ran well.”

True to his name, Elite Excalibur will be competing in elite company against the likes of Infantry, Well Done, Quechua (all three Singapore Derby winners) and Singapore Guineas winner Forever Young. Rodd is hoping his day in the sun will arrive soon.

“Elite Excalibur is a top class horse and deserves to win a big race one day,” said Rodd.

“I wouldn’t swap my ride with any other horse in the Committee’s Prize. I hope he can win first-up.”