A week after the announcement of the retirement of Debt Collector made headlines in Singapore with Barree Stable managing owner Glenn Whittenbury extolling his virtues in an interview with Nick Childs, the famous Whittenbury colour’s were again in the headlines after tasting more Group 1 success this time with Inferno who easily won Saturday’s (26th September) Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m).
Having made a one act affair of the first (technically second) Leg, the Group 2 Singapore Classic (1400m) a month ago, Inferno started the shortest of favorites in the Guineas. What people witnessed could only be described as an effortless victory in the Guineas by Inferno, who matched the mighty deed of Debt Collector’s wins in the second and third legs of the Singapore Three Year Old series in 2016. It does appear that the throne at the Cliff Brown Stable is now occupied by Inferno.
There is no such thing as a certainty in racing and with highly strung equine athletes nothing is a fait accompli, but jockey Vlad Duric did add to the stable’s confidence post trial on Tuesday 15th when he quietly said to Cliff “I think he’s improved.”
Drawing barrier one wasn’t ideal for Inferno, as the big striding bay prefers plenty of room. This scenario seemed to be playing out early in the Guineas as a very slow pace had him over racing with his mouth wide open. However, you don’t become a three time Champion jockey in Singapore for nothing and Vlad Duric, had him off the rails at the 400m, and ready to settle when Meryl (WH Kok) speared over three wide to go and inject more speed into the race.
Inferno then began to relax in the middle stages of the race. Hooking out on the turn Duric gave the son of Holy Roman Emperor time to balance up in the straight, before allowing him a bit more rein, and he quickly gathered in the leaders almost like a working gallop. Shaken up hands and heels by Duric, Inferno quickly put the result in no doubt and effortlessly strode to one of the easiest Group 1 wins seen at Kranji, by 1 ½ lengths to Rocket Star.
The devastating win of Inferno yet again showcased Cliff’s incredible talents of having a horse peak on the day. With each subsequent victory more impressive than the previous during this campaign, his management of Inferno again highlights Cliff’s ability to have a horse keep improving each time it steps out. Together with a tremendous amount of hard work by all the staff (particularly Solleh his work rider and Zamri, Inferno’s at times suffering syce -Inferno can be nasty at times), more feature race wins look destined to follow. His next assignment will be finalised by Glenn and Cliff in the coming days. Whilst other stables may have had one or two Group 1 winners, Inferno represents Cliff’s sixth individual Group 1 winner since he arrived in Singapore. In that time, no other trainer comes close to this.
On Thursday 6th of August 2015, Glenn Whittenbury and son Bryce made the journey from Australia to watch the Barree stable owned and Cliff Brown trained North Atlantic Ice run in a class 4 1400 on the following Friday evening. The second horse to be sent to Singapore by Barree Stable, was ridden by Rizuan Shafiq. Glenn and Bryce (along with all of us) roared him to victory, the first time the Barree Stable had enjoyed the thrill of a victory live in Singapore.
Having an owner make the trip, the horse win, and to enjoy celebrating the victory was hugely satisfying, as all in racing know, things don’t normally go to script. I don’t think anyone could have envisaged the replication of this joy and in so many big races in the years to come. Whilst Glenn is unable to attend the Singapore races due to Covid restrictions, that same joy has been relayed by many text and phone conversations over the past few days. Unfortunately for the DC crew (as Glenn calls his Singapore friends), celebrations are muted without Glenn, probably because he is not here to pay for the merriment.
Glenn knows racing back to front and how difficult it is to get top class horses. His continued support allows the stable the opportunity to try and unearth the next star. Very realistic in his appraisal of yearling prices, over the last 5 years Glenn has stepped up to allow the stable to purchase horses that we think will make the grade in Singapore. We don’t always hit the bulls eye, but with Glenn allowing Cliff to chart the course for his horses, this gives the stable the best opportunity to bring out the best in them.
Team DC have all become quite close over the years, sharing the good times and the bad. However, any opportunity for some good natured ribbing is gleefully seized upon. Well, actually seized upon more like a pack of veracious piranha’s. It was Cliff’s turn to cop it this past week. Now, with this in mind, this year’s Victoria Derby will be compulsory viewing for the piranha’s , with the current pre-post favorite Ain’tnodeeldun looking the goods. Could be Glenn’s turn to be savaged, he knows why. But that’s for another day and another article.
With that seventh win (four at Group level), Inferno has banked in close to $700,000 for Barree Stable. By claiming the two Legs, Inferno is by virtue crowned the undisputed new Singapore Three-Year-Old Champion, even if he has already turned four given the modified conditions to the series in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also takes home $50,000 as bonus. Glenn celebrated with a well earned beer with his son Gregory.