Nineteen years after former Kranji trainer Don Baertschiger landed the inaugural Committee’s Prize with Con Air, it was his son Shane who added his name to the roll of honour with lightweight chance I’m Incredible on Sunday.
Baertschiger was then assistant-trainer to his father when the brilliant Con Air produced his trademark turn of foot for stable jockey Eddie Wilkinson to become the first winner of the S$175,000 race over the mile.
Much water has flown under the bridge since, including Don’s retirement in 2012 and the handing of the baton to Shane the same year.
But winning the same feature race his father captured 19 years ago and by coincidence in almost identical pink colours bore a special meaning to Baertschiger, especially after he was teasingly called “crazy” when he said he would run a last-start Class 4 winner in the race.
Rated only 69 and dwarfed by the other 10 rivals all in a bracket of 84 to 102 points, the son of Lope De Vega was also worse off at the weights given he should have on paper carried 46.5 kilos with respect to the topweight Elite Invincible (59 kilos at 102 points but who was eventually scratched), but carried 50kgs instead.
In racing, figures and mathematics are a numbers game that gets thrown out the window at times. The real deal is played out on the track, and Baertschiger was convinced it was a winnable gamble despite the chasm in ratings.
The smiles grew even wider when a horse who does not typically go forward, Japanese mare Makanani (Black Tide) flew the lids to open up to a commanding lead of eight to 10 lengths down the back and round the second bend.
Into the home straight, Makanani was still well clear at the 400m, but started to send signals of distress at the 250m.
Spearheading the charge of the light brigade, I’m Incredible kept whittling down the margin and as he came within striking distance, he pinned his ears back and inexorably swept past Makanani on his way to a stunning giant-killing act.
"When I told the owners, I would run the horse in the Committee’s Prize, they thought I was crazy,” said Baertschiger.
“There aren’t a lot of horses on 69 points who run in a major race, let alone win. But when you look at the field, the other horses may be higher rated than him, but they were beatable.
“Elite Excalibur would have been harder to beat if he had run, but he was scratched. The race then became more open.
“Harry also rode him a treat, he didn’t panic and waited when the mare opened up. I was laughing as my horse had a lightweight, and I knew he has a good turn of foot.
“At the 300m, I was already telling (owner) Desmond (Ong) he would win. He also ran time (1min 34.4secs).
“I think that horse can improve further. It’s only his second-up run, the Gold Cup is his goal and I will probably look at the El Dorado Classic (2000m on September 20), which is a handicap race, as his next target.
“It’s good to see Desmond win his first major race. He and his dad have been with me for a long time.
“My dad won the first Committee’s Prize 19 years ago and it’s a big thrill to win the same race today, not quite in the same silks, but in the same pink and red colours!”
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.