Globetrotting French trainer targets Singapore

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - France's master horseman Freddy Head has been plundering the world's biggest races for decades but keeps looking for new frontiers.

Initially as a jockey and now as a trainer, Head has enjoyed remarkable success across Europe, Britain, Ireland, North America and the Middle East.

He won the French jockey's championship six times, and the country's biggest race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, four times, once on a horse trained by his father and another on a horse trained by his sister.

He is the only person to have won at the Breeders' Cup both as a jockey and a trainer, riding Misque to two wins and preparing the super mare Goldikova to three victories.

Earlier this year, Head captured his first Group One win in Dubai when Solow won the Turf race and now the globetrotter has his sights set on conquering Southeast Asia.

For the first time, Head has entered a runner in the S$3 million (1 million pound) Singapore Airlines International Cup, which will be held at Kranji racecourse on Sunday.

The 2000 metre race has attracted a quality field of entrants from four countries: Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and France.

Head's runner, Free Port Lux, is one of the favourites in the 11-horse field. A lightly raced four-year-old entire, Free Port Lux has won three of his 11 career starts, including two Group wins at Longchamp.

Head is under no illusions about the test his horse faces adjusting to the searing humidity in Singapore and a first time racing under lights, but he is already looking ahead to new challenges.

“This race will give us a good gauge how he measures up on the international stage,” Head said.

“If he runs well, we can still travel with him as he is only four. Races like the Arlington Million in the U.S., the Cox Plate in Australia or the Hong Kong international could be next targets for him.

”But let’s see how he goes here first and then we can dream bigger.”

Head is not the only one trying to break down a barrier. Hong Kong trainer John Moore is trying to win the Group One event for the third time in a row after preparing the 2013 winner Military Attack and last year's winner Dan Excel.

Both horses are entered this year and vying for favouritism with the bookmakers but only Dan Excel is racing for Moore with Military Attack now being prepared by Casper Fownes.

“He's is peaking at the right time for this Sunday," Moore said when asked about Dan Excel's chances. “We are expecting a repeat of last year’s performance.”

Singapore-based, South African-born trainer Patrick Shaw has four runners in the race, including Quechua, which won last year's Singapore Gold Cup, restricted to locally-trained horses.

The only Singapore-trained horse to have won the International Cup was Ouzo in 2000 but top Australian jockey Corey Brown, who will ride Quechua, said his mount had a real chance to end the drought.

"He's obviously at the top level now and he can't afford to have things go wrong," Brown told Reuters.

"He's a tradesman, he's not a flash horse. He just gets the job gone and I'm sure he'll look the winner somewhere."

(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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