The Singapore Triple Crown series was first introduced shortly after the Singapore Turf Club shifted from Bukit Timah to Kranji in 1999. This exciting series was inspired by the prestigious Triple Crown in the United States.
While the American version dates back to the 1920s with the world-famous Kentucky Derby followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, the Singapore edition is younger but is similarly based on the same three-Leg model, though it did not always comprise the same three races.
The original series actually opened with the Raffles Cup, followed by the Queen Elizabeth II Cup before culminating with the crown jewel – the time-honoured Singapore Gold Cup.
In its current form, the Kranji Mile, a race first introduced in 2000, replaces the QEII Cup and is the first Leg, progressing then to the Raffles Cup and lastly the Singapore Gold Cup. All three races are Group 1 events for three-year-olds and above held three weeks apart and are run over the turf track. The Kranji Mile is run over 1,600 metres, normally at the beginning of October, followed by the Raffles Cup, over 1,800 metres, with both races run at weight-for-age. The series concludes with the Singapore Gold Cup, a stamina-sapping race staged over 2,200 metres which is the only Leg to be a handicap, and is regarded by many as the toughest hurdle.
Infantry (Manoel Nunes) outbattles Countofmontecristo (Glen Boss) to gain victory in the Panasonic Kranji Mile.
As an added incentive, the winner of any two Legs is entitled to a bonus prize of $50,000 while the winner of all three Legs wins a bonus prize of $300,000. Highlighting the toll it takes on its participants, no horse has managed to win all three Legs of the Singapore Triple Crown series in a calendar year. Perhaps the closest was Smart Bet who won all three races, but over a span of two years. The former Mohd Yusof-trained champion landed the Kranji Mile in 2001 before winning the Raffles Cup and the Singapore Gold Cup a year later.
In the last two years, War Affair (2014) and Stepitup (2015) clinched the first two Legs, but failed in their bids for a historic first Triple Crown at the last hurdle, the Singapore Gold Cup.
Last year, Debt Collector bagged the first two Legs, but bypassed the Singapore Gold Cup, which was for the first time sponsored by Dester. Given a lovely frontrunning ride by top Melbourne jockey Craig Williams, Bahana went all the way to hand trainer Stephen Gray his first win in the feature race.