The “rising star’ tag had been bandied around for a while, but after Inferno (Holy Roman Emperor) lit up Saturday’s Singapore Guineas (1600m) with a victory as emphatic as you would ever witness at Kranji, not many will now disagree that a new star is born.
Even if Mr Malek (NZ) (Swiss Ace) – smart but not as charismatic – had not been sensationally scratched on Tuesday, the third and last Leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge was always going to be billed as a one-horse race, especially after Inferno jogged to an easy win in the first (technically second) Leg, the Singapore Classic (1400m) a month ago.
The early muddling-run pace could have set a costly trap, but Inferno sidestepped it with the ease and hint of swagger that is the hallmark of very good horses.
As jockey Vlad Duric manoeuvred his mount to the outside upon approaching the home turn, the complexion of the race could not have made for a more predictable finish.
A few shakes of the reins and only one smack of the whip, and Barree Stable’s new star effortlessly strode to one of the easiest wins seen at Kranji, with the consummate ease of a win that looked more like a galloping exhibition.
By claiming the two Legs, Inferno is crowned the undisputed new Singapore Three-Year-Old Champion, even if he has already turned four given the modified conditions to the series in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also takes home S$50,000 as bonus.
Trainer Cliff Brown was simply blown away by the breath-taking spin from a horse who is slowly but surely taking a special place in his heart right next to Barree’s original ‘horse of a lifetime’, Debt Collector (NZ) (Thorn Park).
“He was very impressive. Vlad didn’t have to do too much on him,” Brown said.
“He did overrace a touch in the first 400m when they slowed up the pace, but Vlad did the right thing by popping him off the fence.
“We knew this could happen and we were always prepared for that. Once he went around the outside, I knew he couldn’t lose.”
While the 3YO series is done and dusted, it doesn’t mean that Inferno is going for a well-deserved break.
“We can possibly look at the Raffles Cup, but it’s in two weeks’ time,” said Brown.
“Vlad looked after him out there today, but we’ll still see how he pulls up. No decision will be made until we speak to (Barree Stable’s principal owner) Glenn (Whittenbury).”
With that seventh win from eight starts, Inferno has banked in close to S$700,000 for his lucky connections.
“The horse (Inferno) was in such good condition. Going to the start, he was fresh and bouncy,” Duric said.
“He gave me so much confidence that I wasn’t so worried about a bit of bad luck from barrier one.
“He dropped his head and relaxed for me. He was in the right spot for me and he showed his class in the end.
“He’s such a beautiful horse and I’m just lucky to be on him. I’m so rapt for Cliff, Glenn and Chris Bock.”
Inferno was purchased by Brown out of Westbury Stud’s 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 draft for $140,000. New Zealand sourced horses have now won five of the last seven editions of the Singapore Guineas.