Rising staying star I’m Incredible showed that his first feature success coming off a Class 4 win was no fluke when he did it again for a second consecutive ‘black type’ race win in the S$150,000 Gr.3 Ultima El Dorado Classic (2000m) on Friday night.
The Lope De Vega five-year-old sent many form analysts in a spin when he took out the Gr.3 Committee’s Prize (1600m) at his last start one month ago, on the back of a win in Class 4 company, no doubt explosive, but still not the best formline to justify such a massive leap in class.
Doubters were silenced, trainer Shane Baertschiger was vindicated. There were, however, fewer knockers when his next outing in the El Dorado Classic, the traditional prelude to the Gr.1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2000m), eventuated, extra four kilos and two furlongs notwithstanding.
There were many factors in his corner this time.
If I’m Incredible had been launched on a Gold Cup trail, Baertschiger, a trainer not known to wing it with his horses, had to know what he was doing. On breeding, the 1 ¼ mile would appear to be even more up his alley as certified by assistant-trainer Scott Bailey, who had seen the staying deeds of the dam Moment In Time during his riding days in Adelaide.
And then there was the A’Isisuhairi ‘Harry’ Kasim factor. While Baertschiger and the former two-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey’s paths didn’t cross all that often in the past, they have formed an almost bombproof alliance this season, especially with lightweight chances.
The likes of Boom Shakalaka, Charming Diamond or Hotshots Slam spring to mind, but I’m Incredible’s Committee’s Prize triumph and now stringing up back-to-back Group Three wins in the El Dorado Classic has once and for all sealed the unlikely pairing as a formidable force.
To illustrate further the perfect chemistry, both men were enjoying a two-from-two with I’m Incredible going all the way, aided in great measure by a muddling-run tempo, to hold Star Jack (Marc Lerner) at bay by half-a-length.
A’Isisuhairi went into the nocturnal meeting with a book of only two rides, and it turned out to be masuk (enter for Malay) for both – and amazingly, the first winner Sothistheone also made someone else’s day, newly-minted trainer Jason Ong’s saddling his first career winner at his very first starter.
Baertschiger, on the other hand, had four runners after two were scratched in the last race, but they were split two apiece in two races, which the Australian both took out.
The first victor Galileo’s Approach in the Bahana 2016 Stakes, a Class 4 Division 2 race over 1600m, is also raced by I’m Incredible’s principal owner Desmond Ong of Doha Stable, and as if there were not enough happy coincidences, it was yet another momentous occasion – Baertschiger’s 400th winner at Kranji.
“It’s two-from-two for both jockey, trainer and owner as well!” said Baertschiger as he showed the V sign.
“The trip wasn’t a query for I’m Incredible. I knew he would run out the 2000m.
“He will improve a lot from the run and I think he’ll be a major force to reckon with in the Gold Cup (on November 10). He’s a stayer in the making.
“He’s only at his first prep and you wouldn’t think he would do what he’s done. He had a hard race after his second win, and we did the right thing to spell him and look after him.
“We’ve had a good run with Harry. He’s yet to put in a bad one, the day he does, I’ll make sure I let you know.”
To say that A’Isisuhairi was happy as Larry at the prize presentation would be a major understatement. The Committee’s Prize was to the Kelantan-born jockey that annual Group win box which he had ticked off again, and now to make it a double, his season thus far has exceeded his expectations - even if one gilt-edged dream still shimmers in the horizon.
“I thought I had my quota of Group win in the Committee’s Prize, and now I’ve got two. It doesn’t get any better than that,” said A’Isisuhairi whose highest acclaim came in the Gr.1 Raffles Cup (1800m) with Gilt Complex in 2017.
“I have to thank this man Shane and the owner for supporting me on this good horse. There is one race I would like to win now, and fingers crossed this horse can take me there, the Gold Cup.
“Tonight, we thought there would be only one leading horse, Star Jack. If there was any other horse with more speed, the plan was to let them lead and we settle in the first three.
“But when the gates opened, Star Jack didn’t go forward. As we hit the first bend, I couldn’t see anyone else interested to lead, so I got him to cross and we landed in front.
“He’s an easy horse to ride. I got him to relax as much as possible as it was his first time over 2000m.
“At the 600m, I knew it would take a very good horse to beat him. I had plenty in hand as I didn’t use much gas and he was so relaxed.
“He wanted to lay out a little at the 200m and that’s why I change my whip from the left hand to the right hand. He’s a really good horse.”
Favourite ($11) King Louis (William Pike) had every chance when he rocked up from a midfield spot to issue his challenge at the 400m, but probably beaten by the moderate pace set by I’m Incredible, the Medaglia D’Oro five-year-old could only make it for third place three-quarter length off Star Jack.
With that fifth win from nine starts, boosted by one second place, I’m Incredible has now racked up in excess of S$240,000 in stakes earnings for Ong’s Doha Stable.
Sold out of the Curraghmore draft for $260,000 during the Premier session of the 2016 National Yearling Sale, I'm Incredible won two trials in Australia under the name Miraculous Moment before being on-sold to his Singapore owner for whom he has now won five of his 11 starts. -STC