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Bestseller triumphs in Committee’s Prize thriller

March 12, 2024 at 4:11:39 AM

The Ricardo Le Grange-trained Bestseller continued his stellar rise through the thoroughbred ranks in Singapore after he took out the $110,000 Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1600m) on Saturday.

Less than a length covered the first five runners over the line and winning jockey Carlos Henrique knocked in his first feature race win in Singapore at only his second meeting.

While there were bound to be some hard-luck stories, including traffic in the crucial stages for $15 favourite Golden Monkey, Bestseller showed he was as adept on the turf as on the Polytrack at the top level by adding the Committee's Prize to his Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes (1700m) victory on the all-weather track in December last year.

After jumping well from barrier one, Henrique was in no rush early and took a seat one-back on the rails behind Mr Black Back (Iskandar Rosman), who led from barrier three.

Pacific Emperor (Vlad Duric) kept the leader company into the first bend while So Hi Class (Koh Teck Huat) did work to his outside. Meanwhile, jockey Ronnie Stewart had Street Of Dreams perfectly positioned; handy with cover behind the leading quartet.

Golden Monkey (Jaden Lloyd) had settled three-back on the rails. At the 600m, Tiger Roar (Manoel Nunes) made an early run from midfield and it was game on for most of the fancied runners.

Turning for home, Henrique was sweating for a run but when the gap appeared at the 400m, Bestseller ($48) darted through the opening and was one of many chances with 300m to the wire.

At the 200m, trainer Tim Fitzsimmons' pair of Golden Monkey and Dream Alliance (Bruno Queiroz) had limited room to run on and it was Street of Dreams and Bestseller who got a small gap on the others.

With Henrique and Stewart throwing everything they could at their respective mounts, it was still anyone's game at the 100m but Bestseller found the most late to win by a head over Street Of Dreams while the honest Invincible Tycoon (Ryan Curatolo) ran another head away in third.

Golden Monkey lost no admirers to finish a neck back in fourth with his stablemate, Dream Alliance a short head away in fifth; remarkably just over three quarters of a length from the winner.

The winning time was 1 min 33.89secs for the 1600m on the Long Course.

Though the margins were small, Henrique was confident that once he got the gap, he was on his way to winning.

"I knew he (Bestseller) would fight and that was a beautiful thing," said the Brazilian hoop, who earlier rode his first winner in Singapore on Santino ($19) for trainer Donna Logan (see earlier report).

"The plan was to use the gate and I had no doubt we would get a good position in running. I knew my horse would take whatever gap there was because that's his character.

"My only worry was that Street Of Dreams was behind me and so were Bruno (Dream Alliance) and Jaden's (Golden Monkey) horses. They were the dangers.

"But once we took the gap, he (Bestseller) showed why he was such a good horse. He's a fighter and wasn't going to lose once he got his head in front."

That fighting spirit was something that Bestseller showed Henrique at his only trackwork atop the Dream Ahead four-year-old before the race.

"Ricardo told me before I rode him in trackwork that I had to earn his respect," he shared.

"He (Bestseller) is so strong in character that he has the same track rider and groom and they cannot change his team or routine, so I only rode him once (on Monday) and Ricardo told me to be patient.

"I have to thank Ricardo and the owners. I work hard, I'm a lightweight (jockey) and I do what I can to win races, but to get good rides like this is a blessing."

Le Grange was relieved that Bestseller was starting to get the results he deserved, so was the stable.

"He showed today he's a smart horse," said Le Grange to racing presenter Raymond Yong after the race.

"He was very unlucky in the (2023 Singapore) Three-Year-Old series; he ran second in all three Legs (Singapore 3YO Sprint, Singapore 3YO Classic and Singapore Guineas).

"A massive thanks to (owners) Sandy (Leonardo) and Karen Javier, they are great supporters and absolute gentlemen.

"Carlos rode this horse an absolute treat. He did a bit of homework and watched all the replays.

"It's been an up and down season for me. The horses were running well but just not winning. But, I will take this win today, it's fantastic."

With seven wins and six placings in 17 starts, Bestseller has amassed over $410,000 in prizemoney for connections.

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