The showdown between Australia’s golden girl of the turf Black Caviar and Singapore’s champion Rocket Man moved a step closer to fruition on Sunday night when the latter demolished his rivals in the $A757,285 Krisflyer International Sprint (1200m) at Singapore’s Kranji Racecourse.
As the third leg of the 2011 Global Sprint Challenge, Rocket Man is now eligible for a record $1.2 million payout if he can upstage defending champion Black Caviar in the Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) on the final day of this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington.
The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) announced on Thursday that prize money for the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic – the eighth leg of the Global Sprint Challenge – has been increased from $750,000 to a record $1 million.
In a bid to entice the world’s leading sprinters down under to challenge Black Caviar, the VRC also unveiled a further $600,000 bonus for the winner of an international leg of the 2011 Global Sprint Challenge if it can claim the Patinack Farm Classic.
Rocket Man, now a winner of 16 of his 20 starts, was the number one international sprint target for the VRC and Racing Victoria (RV) who have commenced discussions with the horse’s connections about competing during the Spring Racing Carnival.
RV’s international recruitment officer Leigh Jordon was at Kranji on Sunday night to offer an invitation to Rocket Man’s trainer Patrick Shaw to fly to Victoria and inspect the training facilities at the Werribee International Horse Centre.
In an important step towards a showdown with the unbeaten Black Caviar on Australian soil, Shaw, who has regularly declared his horse better than the champion mare, has accepted the invitation and will fly to Victoria in the coming weeks.
Despite sitting three wide for the first half of the Krisflyer, Rocket Man exploded away from his rivals on straightening to claim the Group 1 by four-and-three-quarter lengths in 1:09.14.
It was a case of third time lucky for the hometown hero who was beaten into second in the previous two editions of Singapore’s premier sprint by Hong Kong pair Sacred Kingdom (2009) and Green Birdie (2010), who were amongst the beaten brigade on Sunday night.
A jubilant Shaw declared post-race, “He’s the best horse in the world. They can bring whatever they like (over here). I’m not just saying it because it’s Rocket Man, I mean it.”
Winning jockey Felix Coetzee, a South African like Shaw, said, “He’s just sensational and it’s such a privilege to ride a horse like this….I’m just the lucky guy on top. These great ones they do it all for you.”
Locally trained horses filled the trifecta with Eclair Fastpass second and Perfect Pins third, whilst second favourite Sacred Kingdom could only manage sixth in the hands of Glen Boss.
The Global Sprint Challenge continues with legs four to six in the United Kingdom commencing with the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) at Royal Ascot on 14 June.
Black Caviar won’t be contesting those. She is currently spelling after making it 13 from 13 in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) at Brisbane’s Doomben Racecourse on 14 May and will return to the track during the Spring Racing Carnival.