South African thoroughbred trainer Herman Brown travelled down under and enjoyed a third place finish with Mourilyan in the world’s richest handicap back in 2009, but this year he is hoping to win the whole kit n’ caboodle and take home the Melbourne Cup trophy with Singapore Cup winner Gitano Hernando.
Hernando stallion Gitano Hernando, formerly raced in the UK, impressively scored an elite level win in the $A2.27 million Singapore Airlines International Cup (2000m) at Kranji Racecourse on Sunday night and Brown now has the champion stayer earmarked for Flemington’s famous two-mile feature on the first Tuesday of November.
It was the second Singapore Cup win for Brown who also enjoyed success with Jay Pet in 2008.
Gitano Hernando was only recently transferred to Brown’s stable after being purchased by owner, the President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, specifically with the view of winning the Dubai World Cup in March.
“We’ve had him for two months only and we’ve been getting to know him better and better,” Brown said.
“We wanted a horse for the (Dubai) World Cup and there weren’t a lot of horses about, but eventually these horses come and find you.”
Gitano Hernando’s success in the prized weight-for-age showdown on Sunday night was in part thanks to a masterful ride to Australian-based jockey Glyn Schofield.
Schofield is now set to return to Australia this week in time to take the mount on the John McNair-trained Hay List in the $650,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) this Saturday.
Hay List is the dominant $1.55 favourite for the Doomben 10,000 win and looks near-certain of providing Schofield with successive elite level wins in two continents after the withdrawal of Black Caviar from the showdown.
It was an impressive return to the saddle for Schofield who only recently recovered from a broken collarbone he sustained in a nasty fall from Hawk Island in the Sydney Cup last month.
The official Singapore Cup result was Gitano Hernando a half-length ahead of fellow South African, the Mike de Knock-trained River Jetez, with Hong Kong stayer Irian and local Singapore-trained Waikato finishing in a dead-heat for third.
“He travelled really sweetly and then he showed a lovely turn of foot when I asked him,” Schofield said of Gitano Hernando.
“I knew my horse was tiring but he was brave all the way to the finish.
“Full credit must go to Herman for the way he turned the horse out and I have to thank him for having the confidence in me after I broke my collarbone in a race fall back in Sydney last month.”
There for the race was Racing Victoria’s international recruitment officer Leigh Jordon, who spoke to Brown directly after in regards to him brining Gitano Hernando to Melbourne for the spring carnival.
“This is an important win looking ahead to the Spring Racing Carnival,” Jordon said.
“Herman enjoyed his trip to Melbourne two years ago and has always said he’d be back with the right horse.
“Gitano Hernando looks like that horse and the prospects are good at this stage.
“Despite winning a 2000-metre weight-for-age race tonight (Sunday), Herman has been of the opinion that Gitano Hernando would be best suited to the Emirates Melbourne Cup and he could be right.”
Brown was yet to confirm a Melbourne Cup bid, saying the horse would first be given a spell in England, but that if things worked out another shot at the Cup would be on the cards.
“He needs a bit of a break now so he’ll go back to England now for a couple of months and we’ll make a decision on where we will go from there,” Brown said.
“He’s a possibility of going to Melbourne for the Cup later in the year, but that is still a long way off.
“I’ve always wanted to have another go after we ran so well a couple of years ago.
“I’m sure he’ll run the distance, it will just depend on how he pulls up and how he travels home.”
Adding more international stars to the possible Melbourne Spring Carnival line-up could be Sunday’s runner-up River Jetez who is likely to target the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley in October.
“I’ve spoken previously with Mike (de Kock) about River Jetez coming to Melbourne and she showed tonight that she’s a top class mare who would be suited to a race like the Tatts Cox Plate,” Jordon said.
Another horse on target for a Cox Plate campaign is stablemate of third-placegetter Irian, the fellow John Moore-trained Xtension.
Winner of the Group 1 Champions Mile (1600m) in Hong Kong last month, Xtension has been confirmed as Cox Plate aspirant for Aussie ex-pat Moore.
“John confirmed for me tonight that Xtension is being set for the Tatts Cox Plate,’ Jordon said.
“He’s even considering coming over earlier and contesting races like the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley in the build up to the Cox Plate which will be great for the Carnival.”