The Singapore chapter of an incredible racing journey will come to end on June 22nd with the Barree Pastoral Co. owned champion Debt Collector to return to Australia. The son of Thorn Park leaves Singapore a winner of 12 races including 5 group 1 victories and a tick under $3.15 million in stake money. The racing journey has seen DC rack up the frequent flier points with him traveling from New Zealand to Singapore, Singapore to Dubai, Dubai to Singapore, Singapore to Australia, Australia to Singapore and now Singapore to Australia again! On arrival back in Australia, Debt Collector will be under the care of trainer Jim Conlan at the private training and spelling facility Pinecliff located on the Mornington Peninsula.
Purchased at the NZB Ready to Race Sales by Cliff for $120,000 back in 2014, DC took until his 4th Singapore start to open his account in a restricted maiden over 1600m on the 27th of November 2015. It wasn’t until his first up run in April 2016 when steaming home under Vlad Duric in a class 4 over 1400m, that the stable knew they had a galloper of above average ability. Victories at his next two runs in the Group 2 Three Year Old Classic and the Group 1 Singapore Guineas confirmed the stable’s high opinion of Debt Collector and saw him crowned Champion 3 year old for 2016.
With three wins on the trot, Debt Collector returned as a four year old in September 2016 winning first up in the Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy and then claiming the Group 1 Kranji Mile and the Group 1 Raffles Cup. The 2016 Racing Awards became the “Debt Collector Benefit” winning Champion Horse of the year, Champion Miler, Champion Three Year Old, Most Improved Horse and Social Media Horse of the Year. Season 2017 started where 2016 finished off with a first up win in the Canada Cup making it 8 straight wins in a row.
A surprise defeat came on the 3rd of March 2017 with DC running third behind Jupiter Gold. A Veterinary examination revealed DC had pulled up with respiratory distress. A creditable run in Dubai against the world’s best followed, with DC returning for the four year old series in Singapore. After a 4th and a 6th in the first two legs, DC was given a break. A close up second when resuming in the Jumbo Jet trophy was followed by a 3rd in the Kranji Mile and a 6th in the 2017 Raffles Cup. All creditable performances, but respiratory problems had again surfaced, and Cliff and Glenn decided he needed a complete break from racing in Singapore. Debt Collector was spelled in Australia at Newhaven Park Stud from December 2017 and landed back in Singapore in May 2018.
After a first up 2nd in the 2018 Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy after nearly 10 months off the scene, the most emotional victory for team DC was his incredible win in the 2018 Raffles Cup. DC and Michael Rodd spotted the field some 12 lengths on the turn, but racegoers witnessed one of the most incredible last 400m unleashed at the Kranji Racecourse as DC and Rodd returned to Group 1 glory. That victory justified the decision by Cliff and Glenn to spell Debt Collector back in Australia as he returned a bigger, stronger thoroughbred. Further glory followed quickly like “the cheery on top” as DC delivered some 30 days later with Glenn track side once again to watch his equine pride and joy make it back-to-back Group 1’s in the 2018 Queen Elizabeth 11 Cup. The 2018 Racing Awards saw Debt Collector collect another two awards, Champion Miler and Champion Older Horse.
Season 2019 again witnessed another incredible first up win by Debt Collector, this time carrying 59kg in a class 1 over 1400m in March with the best field assembled in Singapore for many a year. Giving every other runner weight, DC again again produced an amazing last 400m to defy all challengers. The $500,000 Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy followed, making it a 4th win in a row since his holiday in Australia. A gallant fourth in The Group 1 Kranji Mile on May 25th, with DC again running the quickest last 400m sectional was to be his last run in Singapore. The DC inner sanctum, aware of a return of the respiratory issues that plagued the champ in 2017 had returned, made the decision to lower the curtain on his time racing in Singapore.
Whilst the racing public witness Debt Collector’s incredible race track deeds, an enormous amount of hard work, effort and planning goes on behind the scenes. All stable employees have played a part in Debt Collector’s success, but a small group of dedicated staff with regular race rider Michael Rodd have helped to prepare the champ over the years. Mohd. Shahrul (boy as he affectionately known) has been Debt Collector’s long time Syce. His dedication, hours of grooming walking, icing and general care of DC is most certainly worthy of mention as, well, DC only tolerates humans rather than likes them.
Senior track rider Sabri Embee has worked for Cliff for the past 10 years, and has ridden DC in all his work since the horses arrival in Singapore. Regular race rider Michael Rodd has been an integral part of the journey and team DC. We have all witnessed Michael’s magnificent race rides and victories, but the hard work and graft in the early hours of the mornings have been just as important.
Others to pay an integral part in DC’s success are Singapore Turf Club Veterinarian Dan Shaw, who has looked after Debt Collector through out his entire time in Singapore, Equine Masseur Jacki Harrison and farrier’s Rory McDonald and Callum Geddes.
Final mention of the behind the scenes management must go to Cliff. Debt Collector has not only showcased his talents as a trainer, but has again showed that with patience and skill and always putting the horse first, ultimate success can be achieved. Ably assisted by B Trainer Tim Fitszimmons, the pair have overseen the meteoric rise of Debt Collector, from an immature 2 year old to a Horse of the year, and in our eyes through his deeds since his return to Singapore in 2018, a Champion. It most certainly hasn’t been all smooth sailing particularly since the middle of 2017 as health issues and the limitations of training in Singapore provided enormous challenges. But with meticulous planning, attention to detail and a lot of hard work the DC journey has become one we will never forget. I have absolutely no doubt that Debt Collector would not of achieved the race track success he has if he wasn’t in the Cliff Brown Stable.
DC’s racing journey has not just been made up of the races in which he competed, the glory of Group 1 and other Group victories nor the prize money he has won. What Debt Collector has also done is cement the many friendships that owners Glenn and Bryce Whittenbury have made here in Singapore. Nick Johnston and Paul Robbins made the trip to Dubai to watch him run, Dennis Cornwell filled in for Glenn collecting the 2018 Raffles Cup in Glenn’s absence. These gentlemen who have attended most of his races have been joined along the way with Glenn’s friends and relatives from Australia, and along with many others at times over the last 4 years, have all hopped on and experienced the DC bandwagon, enjoyed the thrilling ride, and some most memorable celebrations that have followed.
Finally, there still may be a chapter or two left in the Debt Collector story. Cliff’s great friend Jim Conlan, a wonderful horseman and trainer will take charge of DC in Australia. Time will tell if he graces the race tracks in Australia. Our sincere thanks to Glenn who has allowed Cliff to chart DC’s path and manage him over the past five years. Without this owner/trainer relationship and the fact that they both always put Debt Collector well being first, he wouldn’t be leaving Singapore in such fine fettle.