The nominations for this year's Singapore Airlines International Cup and the KrisFlyer International Sprint have garnered one of the most competitive line-ups ever seen in the history of the two races.
Leading racing powerhouses like Australia, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Great Britain, France, South Africa, among others, are again strongly represented in both races to be run at the Singapore Racecourse on May 17.
In total, the foreign nominations hail from 15 countries which also include the United States of America, Germany, Ireland, Macau, New Zealand, Italy, Norway and Qatar.
A combined total of more than 190 horses has been nominated, with 117 and 76 of them split between the S$3 million International Group 1 SIA Cup and the S$1 million Singapore Group 1 KrisFlyer respectively.
"It is the strongest list of nominations we have had for the two races," commented Mike Wanklin, Vice President of Racing and the Head of Handicapping at the Singapore Turf Club.
"The depth is well and truly there for both races and I'm confident the fields for the SIA Cup and KrisFlyer will deliver two outstanding races."
SINGAPORE AIRLINES INTERNATIONAL CUP
At the closing date for the first nominations, 22 Singapore-based runners and 95 overseas horses had set their sights on the SIA Cup.
Last year's winner JAY PEG has again been nominated by South African trainer Herman Brown to defend his crown in the 2009 edition. Brown has also nominated TRAFFIC GUARD, who ran 10th in last year's SIA Cup when prepared by Jane Chapple-Hyam before running a cracking second to New Approach in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes (2000m).
After his Singapore triumph, Jay Peg only resumed at this year's Dubai International Racing Carnival, running twice for one encouraging second to Balius in the Group 2 Jebel Hatta-Daaher (1777m), a key trial to the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free (1777m), a race Jay Peg won last year.
BALIUS (third last year when handled by French trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias), as well as the other Jebel Hatta-Daaher placegetters, namely RUSSIAN SAGE and IMBONGI who are both trained by Mike de Kock, have also been nominated for the SIA Cup, under the United Arab Emirates banner.
With 16 nominations, the Middle-East nation tops the overseas list jointly with Australia, which has always been a keen supporter of the SIA Cup.
Leading the Australian charge are TUESDAY JOY and NICONERO, who recently captured the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes over 1600m at Randwick and the Group 1 Australian Cup over 2000m at Flemington respectively.
Placegetters from the Australian Cup THESEO and ZAGREB are also among the nominations.
Japan, which captured back-to-back SIA Cups with COSMO BULK (2006) and SHADOW GATE (2007), is back in force this year with 15 nominations.
Both Cosmo Bulk and Shadow Gate have been re-entered for another bite at the cherry, together with big names such as Melbourne Cup (3200m) winner and runner-up DELTA BLUES and POP ROCK, multiple-group winner MATSURIDA GOGH and the Shadai Farm-owned TASCATA SORTE.
Other notable entries include international multiple-Group winner PRESSING (Great Britain), QUIJANO (Germany) who is still racing with great heart, having run second first-up in the Group 2 Dubai City Of Gold (2400m), the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby Trial Stakes (1800m) winner UNIQUE JEWELLERY (Hong Kong), and recent Auckland Cup (3200m) winner SPIN AROUND (New Zealand), who ran unplaced in last year's SIA Cup.
The Singapore contingent is spearheaded by 2008 Singapore Horse of the Year TOP SPIN and last year's SIA Cup runner-up RECAST. Other top-drawer names that will vie for a place in the Cup include emerging middle-distance performers like ONCEUPONATIME and THE HORNET, and seasoned stayers like Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) winner EL DORADO and Raffles Cup (1800m) winner CHEVRON.
KRISFLYER INTERNATIONAL SPRINT
A total of 20 Singapore gallopers have been nominated to tackle some of the world's best sprinters in the showcase event for the speedsters.
The local sprinters make up the biggest contingent with all the big names entered including WAIKATO - fourth in last year's race - CAPABLANCA - sixth last year - and the undefeated rising sensation, three-year-old ROCKET MAN.
Interestingly the David Hill-trained ONCEUPONATIME has also been nominated for the KrisFlyer.
Taking pride of place at the head of the international list of gallopers is Australian superstar - and last year's KrisFlyer victor - TAKEOVER TARGET.
The rising 10 year-old headlines an entry of 11 Australian horses. He is about to embark on his last campaign and tour to England for his fourth Royal Ascot meeting and trainer Joe Janiak is keen to again add the KrisFlyer to the gelding's magnificent collection of six Group 1 victories.
Also earmarked for the KrisFlyer are APACHE CAT and SCENIC BLAST. Apache Cat leads Takeover Target in the Group 1 stakes race having claimed seven victories at the highest level while Scenic Blast recently completed the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) - Newmarket Handicap (1200m) double at Flemington, a feat achieved by Takeover Target in 2006.
SEVENTH ROCK (pictured), a Group 1 winner in South Africa is one of four runners nominated from the David Hayes yard while ABSOLUT GLAM rounds out the Group 1 winners nominated from Australia.
A total of 11 entries has been received from the United Arab Emirates. Outstanding South African-bred J J THE JET PLANE, a Group 1 winner in his native country, leads an impressive list that also includes DIABOLICAL and two of last year's KrisFlyer combatants STAR CROWNED (fifth) and SALAAM DUBAI (ninth).
Multiple Group 1 winner MARCHAND D'OR headlines the entries from France. The Freddie Head-trained gelding proved himself to be Europe's best sprinter last year when successful in the Prix de l'Abbaye (1000m) at Longchamp last October before finishing in sixth position in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) last December.
Hong Kong has listed seven horses in the nominations, among them being INSPIRATION, winner of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint last December and SANZIRO, a flashing third behind Takeover Target and Magnus in last year's KrisFlyer.
Great Britain and Ireland are not to be outdone either with 10 sprinters among them in the nominations along with six from Japan. South Africa has two entrants including the Group 1 winner MYTHICAL FLIGHT while a further four nominations, including the Group 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (1300m) winner DESERT CODE, have been received from the United States Of America.