Te Horo-based horseman Chris Rutten will pay his first visit to Singapore this weekend where Kingsman, a horse he bought and part-owns, will tackle Sunday’s S$1.15 million Emirates Singapore Derby (1800m).
Kingsman will be part of a three-pronged attack on the four-year-old feature for ex-pat Kiwi trainer Mark Walker, who will also have race favourite Elite Invincible and Lim’s Regard.
While Elite Invincible prevailed last start by a head over Kingsman, connections of the runner-up were delighted with the way he closed from the rear in the S$1 million Charity Bowl (1600m) and believe the additional 200 metres on Sunday will suit.
“It was a good watch,” Rutten said. “The way he was coming home we’re hopeful, who knows. “His runs have been pretty good. He’s had a couple of runs on the way through with bad luck and bad draws.
“Putting the blinkers on has switched him on too.”
An astute judge of horseflesh, Rutten selected Kingsman for $80,000 at the 2015 NZB Select Yearling Sale from the draft of Blandford Lodge.
Originally trained by Johno Benner and Hollie Wynyard, Kingsman finished third in the Karaka Million (1200m) for the Otaki conditioners, beaten a head and a neck.
“He had to change course in the straight and I think he would have won in another stride or two,” Rutten said. The son of Darci Brahma had three starts for Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards in New Zealand before transferring to Mark Walker in Singapore.
“It’s been a good experience racing a horse in Singapore,” Rutten said. “He’s only the second horse we have raced up there after Touche, who won a couple.
“Mark Walker is excellent. His feedback is exceptional and if you’ve got a horse suitable to be up there it makes it worth it with the stakes.
“We always had him earmarked for Singapore when he joined Te Akau’s New Zealand operation.
“I thought he was a firm-track horse who would be suited up there, but interestingly Mark said he likes a bit of rain. Over here he needed it firm and it was a case of the harder, the better.
“They have predicted a bit of rain over the next four days and Mark said he thinks it will be in his favour.
Kingsman has earned S$343,000 in his 11 starts in Singapore and has only finished out of the first four on two occasions.
Drawn in barrier 12, Kingsman will be ridden by Craig Grylls on Sunday and is one of eight New Zealand breds in the blue riband race.