Racing

Tannhauser set for Rocket Man Sprint

Trainer Clements' exciting sprinter passes his turf test in class-record time

After a costly defeat at his previous start, the real Tannhauser bounced back to prove in no uncertain terms that he was destined for the forthcoming big sprints with a class-record victory at Kranji on Sunday.

By taking the $100,000 Class 2 race over 1,200m on turf in 1min 08.77sec, the exciting gallop bettered Mexican Rose's class record of 1min 09.00sec set several years ago.

Just three weeks earlier, Tannhauser was backed down to $8 to complete a five in a row but he could only finish fourth to Al Green, beaten by about one-and-a-half lengths.

While the day's Stipendiary Stewards' Report stated that the horse returned a roarer, trainer Michael Clements reckoned that the 1,000m trip on the Polytrack was simply too sharp for his charge.

Tannhauser, whose only defeat then was his first-up fifth over 1,200m on turf, had won once over the Poly 1,000m but he was fresh from an almost seven-month break .

Even then, the four-year-old New Zealand-bred had to slog it out for a half-length victory over Himalaya Dragon in Class 3 on Dec 3 last year. It was his class that saw him through for that fourth straight win on the Poly.

As Tannhauser is aimed at the Singapore Sprint Series, of which two of the three legs will be staged on turf, Clements had to try his rising sprinter on that surface.

And what a performance he put up on Sunday.

Reigning champion jockey Vlad Duric got Tannhauser up with the pace set by Darc Bounty from Dream Comes True.

Turning for home, Duric appeared in need of some luck with Darc Bounty sticking to the fence and Dream Comes True on the leader's outside.

With no clear room on the inside, Duric quickly angled out and, luckily, the gap between the two leaders was wide enough to go through.

The Australian got into action, pumping furiously which got Tannhauser going in full throttle.

Tannhauser hit the front 200m out and it was all over.

The fast pace, with a 24sec first sectional, enabled the winner to clock the class record.

At the post-race interview, Clements said Tannhauser actually ran really well last time out, just that the 1,000m trip was obviously too sharp for him.

"We've always been wanting a race like this over six furlongs (1,200m) and Vlad had a great run on him," he added.

"He had a gun run, got the box seat and, turning for home, he ran on really great, you know.

" He had to work hard but, yeah, it was a class record, so he's going great.

"This run is obviously towards the Rocket Man, so this was getting his feet onto the turf before the Rocket Man, which is obviously on turf as well.

"Obviously, we'll be looking for the Sprint Series going forward."

The $200,000 Group 3 JBBA Rocket Man Sprint over 1,200m is on April 1. This will be followed by the $500,000 Group 2 Merlion Trophy over 1,200m on the Poly on April 27 and the $1 million Group 1 Lion City Cup over 1,200m on turf on May 20.

Duric, who has ridden Tannhauser in all his seven starts, was all praise for the Jubilant Racing Stable-owned horse.

"He's really an exciting horse - very highly strung, very extravagant action horse but he's got a really good engine. I think today's race will really put him in good stead for his future," said the Australian.

"You know, he'll be racing against some pretty hot competitors in the next few months - horses that have been there and done it before.

"So, hopefully, this will raise him a bit more and he deserves his crack at the good races coming."

loon@sph.com.sg

HORSE RACING