The high praise the Australian jockey lavished the Michael Clements-trained star with after he won his trial could not have been more flattering.
Boss saw echoes of a similar workout that eventually led to Lim’s Cruiser going back-to-back in the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) last May.
It’s a big call to make given that Countofmontecristo has not won a race for 20 months – last of the Echoes Of Heaven five-year-old’s seven wins came in the Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m) in September 2017.
But Countofmontecristo has also picked up a bridesmaid tag in Group events - five seconds with that in the Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile (1600m) no doubt the harder to accept.
At his last three starts when he played second fiddle, it was Boss - after he was jocked off a while ago - who was back on top of the Joe Singh-owned star. The one ride that stood out was the change of tactics in the Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) where Boss eased the on-pace runner into a more rearward spot before charging home along the rails – but Debt Collector was his nemesis again, even if he nearly got caught off guard.
Cliff Brown’s champion galloper will be in the way again in the Kranji Mile, but Boss could barely contain his excitement at the rematch, even if two heavyweights from Hong Kong will give the race another dimension altogether.
“The last time the barrier trial was that good before a big win was when Lim’s Cruiser won the Lion City Cup,” said Boss.
“Lim’s Cruiser trialled unbelievable in the lead-up and Countofmontecristo gave me the same unbelievable feeling this morning.
“He had the blinkers on. We stand nothing to lose, he reacts to them, which is good.
“He sat quiet in fourth and he just put it away when I asked him. It was a great trial.
“I’ve ridden him at his last three starts now, and I can tell you this horse has reached his peak at the right moment.”
Boss said he would still head into the race with an open mind about tactics even if his daring gamble to come from behind nearly paid off in the Chairman’s Trophy. For one, the element of surprise would be gone should they pick a negative ride again.
“He’s always been chased down, and I thought why not be the one to chase down that day,” said Boss.
“We almost pulled it off. That doesn’t mean we’ll stick to that in the Kranji Mile, a lot will depend on the draw, the speedmap and so on, but at least we have that option now.
“Debt Collector and him are the two best local horses in the race. Without a doubt, Debt Collector is the better horse, but my bloke is a close second.
“The one advantage my horse has is he will always put himself into a winning position no matter what, whereas for Debt Collector, he comes from off the pace, and like for any horse that runs this way, they need a bit of luck on their side.”
It’s well known that ever since International races like the Singapore Airlines International Cup, KrisFlyer International Sprint (both discontinued in 2016) and last year’s inaugural Kranji Mile had been staged, the silverware has tended to leave our shores, except for the inaugural SIA Cup (Ouzo in 2000) and two KrisFlyers with Rocket Man (2011) and Ato (2012) the local victors.
But Boss has a mind to not put Hong Kong’s duo of Southern Legend, last year’s winner, and Singapore Sling too much on a pedestal this time.
“Last year, Countofmontercristo and Debt Collector didn’t run in the Kranji Mile, but with both in this year, I think the Hong Kong horses will have a bit of competition this time,” said Boss.
“They shouldn’t underestimate us. But I also respect the two Hong Kong horses.
“We saw what Southern Legend did last year, even if I’m not sure what he’s done since, but I sure saw Singapore Sling’s recent second to Beauty Generation in the Champions Mile (1600m) – that was a big run.”