Rocket Time in Singapore

Rocket Man favourite

Trainers Mike de Kock and Herman Brown might have $3 million reasons to disagree but it’s all about Pat Shaw in Singapore this weekend.

The ‘local’ South African handler has received rock-star treatment at Kranji in the lead up to this Sundays International meeting and he has one horse to thank – Rocket Man.

The ‘Singapore Flyer’ headlines not only the $1 million KrisFlyer but the whole International Carnival as he tries to make it third time lucky in the International Group 1.

The Champ has a career record of 15 wins from 19 career starts but – rather unfairly – it is his defeats that receive most media attention.

And while the Viscount 5YO made amends in Dubai by winning the Dubai Golden Shaheen in March, a win in the KrisFlyer will make not only history – no local horse has won the event – but will go down as the most significant moment in Singapore Racing History – it’s that big!

To add to the 2011 race drama – if it needed any – is the fact that the two horses to beat ROCKET MAN in the KrisFlyer, SCARED KINGDOM in 2009 and GREEN BIRDIE in 2010, are back with both connections confident the speedsters can once again rain on the Singapore parade.

But ask anyone in Singapore  – including Mike Wanklin,  Vice President Racing Singapore Turf Club and Head of Handicapping, and the forecast is ‘Sunny’ without a hint of Hong Kong induced rain or pain.

“Basically ROCKET MAN has reached the height of his powers and you are going to see a superstar in the next twelve months” says Wanklin.

“Immaturity cost him this race as a 3YO, he was on the improve last year after injury and he just wins this year. On paper there is only one horse in the world that COULD beat him and she (Black Caviar) isn’t here.”

Most pundits agree and he will be the only horse the punters want to win on Sunday and win he will.

But while Pat Shaw, owner Fred Crabbia and jockey Felix Coetzee, are odds on to be waving the Singapore/South African flag on Sunday, Mike de Kock (RIVER JETEZ) and Herman Brown (GITANO HERNANDO) have their work cut out for an African feature race double.

Wanklin continues.

“Of the two South Africans I think RIVER JETEZ has the form on the board – winning in Dubai and her recent second in the Duty Free – and she is one of the few fillies to have won the J&B MET so she more than handles the occasion.

“I also like the fact she can be handy in running and that counts for a lot if the race history is anything to go by.  You also know the de Kock team will have her 100% on the day and whoever beats her wins in my book.

“And you can’t discount GITANO HERNANDO. He will be right in mix and just needs an ounce of luck in what is a very open affair”.

Apart from South Africa, there are runners in the $3 million show-case from France, Dubai, The United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore with Wanklin suggesting a grey ‘swooper’ from Hong Kong plays a big part come the business end.

“CALIFORNIA MEMORY is the one to watch if the race suits off pace runners as his recent runs in Hong Kong have been impressive and will be flying late. I think he is a serious winning hope”.

Any locals with a chance?

“Always tough for the locals at this level but there doesn’t look to be obvious pace in this race so a horse like WAIKATO (4th last year) might give a good show when they start to sprint and FATKID has been super lately winning at his only two attempts at this trip”.

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