The Raffles Cup was never cast in stone in Titanium’s racing programme, but trainer James Peters in the end thought the Group 1 race over 1800m was after all the best fit towards the Dester Singapore Gold Cup.
Taking on the likes of Debt Collector and Well Done, respectively winner and runner-up in the first Leg of the Singapore Triple Crown series, the Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile (1600m), which he did not run in, may sound like a daring gamble, but while it may have been a bit of a ‘what the heck’ move, Peters was confident enough Titanium was not punching above his weight.
The English handler explained he was not keen to race his Gold Cup hopeful over the mile again following his sixth to Twickenham in the Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1600m) last month, but neither did Sunday’s Group 3 El Dorado Classic over the Gold Cup trip of 2,200m appeal.
There was only one option left, the least easy route, the Raffles Cup. Hobson’s choice it may be, but it comes with a purse of $700,000, is the second Leg of the Triple Crown, the perfect launchpad to the Gold Cup in three weeks’ time on November 20.
“The long-term goal has always been the Gold Cup for Titanium, but as he is a pretty lightly-raced sort, he needed a prep run, and the Raffles Cup was the only race that suited him,” said Peters.
“I wanted him to go over a bit over ground and the timing is ideal. The El Dorado, I thought, was too far, and I did not want him to run over the mile again.
“I know it’s a tough race, but I don’t think he is completely hopeless. He has improved a hell of a lot since his last run.
“Yet, this is by far the strongest field he has ever met, but I can only hope he can earn some prizemoney. Regardless of how he does, this is a nice race towards the Gold Cup, and it will give me a good indication of how well he is going.”
After giving the Tavistock five-year-old a fairly laid-back barrier trial last Thursday, Peters will top off his condition with a last gallop on Wednesday.
“He trialled well with Harry (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) last week (sixth to Mr Fantastic) and he will have a last gallop tomorrow,” he said.
“He had the blinkers back on and he will have them on this Sunday as well. He overraced a couple of times without and I thought over the longer trip, he should relax better as there will be good speed in the race.
“It will also give me a good idea if we leave them on in the Gold Cup.
“We all know he does better when he is drawn off the track as he did when he won the Stewards’ Cup, but he has drawn in since, but I don’t think it will make any difference in the Raffles Cup as it is a pretty small field.”
Meanwhile, Peters will also saddle another one of his better horses on Friday, the China Horse Club-owned Olympic Anthem in the $100,000 Open Benchmark 97 speed dash over the 1000m, but the Stracraft six-year-old will surprisingly not be ridden by his last-start winning partner Michael Rodd.
“Olympic Anthem has pulled up good after his last win. I was happy with his gallop on Monday morning,” said Peters.
“As Michael is riding another horse (My Lucky Strike), I’ve given the ride to Corey Brown, who also knows the horse quite well as he’s ridden him a few times.
“Like for Titanium, there are few opportunities for him. It’s not ideal to carry 59kgs backing up after two weeks, but there aren’t many races for him.”
Rodd said the decision to jump off Olympic Anthem was not easy, but at the end of the day, the Debt Collector rider’s allegiance to the Cliff Brown yard tipped the scales. He has picked Polytrack champion My Lucky Strike, a recent transfer to Brown from the Mark Walker yard, but who has struggled to regain his form this year.
“It was a very tough decision to make as Olympic Anthem is a very good horse, but Cliffy has been really good to me, and I had to stick with him,” said Rodd.
“I trialled My Lucky Strike last week and he worked very well.”