Countofmontecristo (NZ) Claims Merlion Trophy

Monday, Aug 26, 2019

Countofmontecristo (NZ) claims the $400000 Listed Merlion Trophy on Sunday Night. Photo: Singapore Turf Club

With an outstanding return to winning form in Sunday’s Merlion Trophy (1200m) at Kranji, Countofmontecristo (NZ) (Echoes of Heaven) continued a dominant run for Karaka graduates in the $400,000 sprint feature.

Bought for $57,500 at the 2015 Ready to Run Sale, Countofmontecristo took his career earnings past S$1.5 million with Sunday’s victory. That is the equivalent of NZ$1.69 million, which is more than 29 times his purchase price.

Countofmontecristo followed on from last year’s Merlion Trophy winner Distinctive Darci (NZ) (Darci Brahma), who cost $100,000 at the 2015 Premier Sale. The 2017 winner Infantry (NZ) (Tavistock) was bought for only $7,000 at the 2013 National Weanling, Broodmare & Mixed Bloodstock Sale.

El Padrino (NZ) (Mr Nancho), who cost $10,000 as a yearling and $56,000 at the Ready to Run Sale, won the Merlion Trophy in 2014 and 2015. The superb 2013 winner Spalato (NZ) (Elusive City) was also Kiwi-bred, while 2012 winner Speedy Cat (NZ) (Scaredee Cat) was a $5,000 graduate of the 2010 Select Sale.

Big-race success is nothing new for Countofmontecristo, who won three black-type races as a three-year-old and placed in the Singapore Guineas (1600m) and Kranji Mile (1600m).

The last two years had been a frustrating 14-start winless run for the gelding, with almost all of those starts at stakes level. He finished second or third in seven of those, and only once further back than fifth.

On Sunday he bounced back to his brilliant best, overcoming a tricky wide gate to race smoothly in midfield before edging out his stablemate Bold Thruster (Turffontein) in a head-bobbing finish.

“Countofmontecristo showed his class,” said winning trainer Michael Clements. “We always felt he was a class horse, he was the best three-year-old and always ran great races, but things didn’t always go his way.

“To come back from 1600m and run on Polytrack was a question mark, but he showed his class and did it. Any trainer dreams of such a great result.”

Countofmontecristo has now had 23 starts for eight wins and eight placings for owner Joe Singh.

“Mike’s done an amazing job with this horse, and well done to Joe,” jockey Daniel Moor said. “This horse can be a candidate for these better races later, and hopefully I get to sit on him then.”

The 2019 Ready to Run Sale will be held at Karaka on November 20 and 21, with Breeze Ups at Te Rapa on October 21 and 22. The catalogue will be online early September, with printed copies arriving in letterboxes in late September

Encosta de lago dies

On the same day the career of Chautauqua has been celebrated with a farewell at Flemington, Coolmore Stud has announced the death of the sprinter’s sire Encosta De Lago.

A multiple champion sire and the reigning champion broodmare sire, Encosta De Lago is one of the greatest Australian-bred sires.

He produced 26 Gr1 winners worldwide headed by six-time elite winner Chautauqua, the one-time highest rated sprinter in the world.

Among Encosta De Lago’s other Gr1 winners are Racing To Win, Alinghi and English.

The 25-year-old was retired from stud duties two years ago and spent his final days at Coolmore Stud in the NSW Hunter Valley.

“‘Encosta’ will be greatly missed by all who dealt with him at Coolmore over the last 14 years,” Coolmore Australia principal Tom Magnier told Just Horse

“He was a horse with a beautiful nature and we were incredibly lucky to have him.

“His legacy will live on through his sire line descendants like Zoustar and Rubick, as well as through his daughters, who have already made him champion broodmare sire.

He enjoyed plenty of success with his South African based runners and from 32 runners in this country, Encosta De Lago has been represented by 25 winners – a total which includes 8 stakes performers.

Encosta De Lago’s best local representatives include champion 2yo Delago Deluxe and Derby winner Dan De Lago – with both colts having subsequently been retired to stud, in Australia and South Africa respectively. Their paternal half brother, Safwan, was another decent local performer in this country, with the gelding’s best performances including a memorable dead heat in the Gr2 Betting World 1900 of 2011.

Another classy performer, brilliant 2yo and Gr2 SA Fillies Nursery winner Merlene De Lago, also returned to Australia for stud du



Countofmontecristo gave a fairly strong hint he may be back in form following a sparkling barrier trial win on Thursday morning.
The former Singapore champion three-year-old has not saluted for more than a year. He did not disgrace himself at his subsequent eight runs, the latest being the Emirates Singapore Derby (1800m) in which he ran on for fifth to Jupiter Gold, but he was clearly finding the going tougher against better quality horses.
Ridden for the first time by Vlad Duric in Thursday’s hit-out, Countofmontecristo, who was also fitted with blinkers for the first time, lay in wait behind the leading pair of Volkstok’n’barrell and Aramco before skipping clear upon cornering. 

Dashing past Aramco with ease, the son of Echoes Of Heaven hit the line with two and a half lengths to spare from the Shane Baertschiger-trained galloper with Debt Collector flashing home late for third another 1 ¼ lengths away.
Assistant-trainer Michael White had every reason to be happy with such a rousing gallop 10 days before Countofmontecristo’s upcoming target, the Raffles Cup (1600m) on September 23.
“It was a great trial from Countofmontecristo ahead of his target race. That was also his blinker test,” said White.
“He wore winkers once, but never blinkers, and he handled them very well. He will most probably wear them in the Raffles Cup.
“As he’ll be fresh-up, we are throwing everything at him just to try new things, and see how he goes. Vlad was happy with his trial, he said it was a nice soft trial for him.”
The Singapore champion jockey is, however, not the one to become the 10th rider to partner the seven-time winner next Sunday week. Brazilian-born Irish jockey Franco Da Silva – who recently finished third on Korean raider Today in the Korea Racing Authority Trophy - is being flown in from Busan, Korea for the steering duties.
“Many jockeys have ridden him. It was a good time to put Vlad on and give him his chance!” said White.
“But he won’t be riding him in the Raffles Cup. I believe Da Silva has been booked.”

Of the nine previous jockeys to have ridden Countofmontecristo, Glen Boss is by far the most successful having won at six of his seven wins, with Alan Munro the other victorious partner, which occurred at that last win on September 10, 2017 in the Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m). -STC


Echoes of Heaven under new ownership and management.

Echoes of Heaven has been purchased by Newmarket Stud Limited and has returned to Redoubt Road in Cambridge where he will stand over the 2018/19 season.

Auckland Barrister, Bruce Pamatatau, is delighted to have secured ownership of the Stallion: “It was too good of an opportunity to turn down. Echoes of Heaven’s pedigree is top draw and while his progeny have been going along nicely with stakes winner Countofmontecristo, Duellicious, and more recently Siam Blue Vanda showing signs of promise, I believe the best is yet to come from the big guy.”

The purchase was made possible by Bloodstock Agent Grant Boyes and this season Echoes of Heaven will be under the watchful eye of Studmaster, Julian Czerpak.

A Winning Chant

Providing the beginning of a great day for the stable - two runners, two winners - Gregorian Chant is an exciting filly who looks to be going places on the back of a dominant maiden victory at Bendigo on Sunday.

A short priced favourite having run so well without a great deal of luck (sitting wide) at her Moonee Valley debut, the attractive chestnut again did a bit of early work before eventually gaining cover mid-field.

Travelling well for Michael Dee, she was clear into the straight and was quickly chasing the three leaders, hitting the lead with 200m and racing clear to win by a length with her ears confidently pricked!

"She had taken a good bit of natural improvement off that first up run," Mitchell said, impressed by just how well she pulled up from that demanding contest.

"She had a pretty tough run out three wide posted on the speed, I thought she was entitled to drop out in the straight but she toughed it out and found the line well."

"She bounced off that run really well, did well in the feed bin and pleased us at home so I thought it was a good idea to take her to the races again - and the step up to 1400m today was ideal."

"She got a bit fired up early," he continued, "but it looks like she is slowly picking up her craft. I don't think she loved the going but the fact that she is going to get out a bit further and that she has probably got a bit of class on her side enabled her to get the job done."

Due to have a break, Gregorian Chant will either have a crack at the spring or be saved for Adelaide a bit later on - "she is still learning," Mitchell said, "and we won't rush her."

Riding Gregorian Chant for the first time, Michael Dee was impressed.

"She didn't really handle the ground that well and she is still very very new - she won on pure ability and there is a lot to come for her."

"Once she learns and takes it all in her stride and gets a bit of confidence I think she'll go a long way... and she will definitely get up over 2000m. As soon as I got cover she relaxed beautifully, she almost came back too much underneath me!"

An OTI Racing purchase off a trial in New Zealand, Gregorian Chant is a daughter of the regally bred Port Adelaide Guineas winner Echoes Of Heaven - full brother to successful stallion Manhattan Rain and half-brother to champion stallion Redoute's Choice.

She is out of the winning Viking Ruler mare Norse Affair, also dam of the winner Tavlin from the family of stakes winners Focal Point, True Colours, Spray and Over To You... and futher back this is also the family of successful stallions Miswaki and Southern Halo. Served last spring by Power, Norse Affair has a weanling filly by Tavistock.

article: courtesy of Kristen Manning.