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