Ablest Ascend - after being gelded
Trainer Clements' highly regarded three-year-old shows marked improvement with smart victory
A good trainer knows what is best for his horse.
In the case of Saturday's Race 2 winner Ablest Ascend, it meant having the colt gelded, even if it is often regarded as the unkindest cut.
The bay Australian-bred's cantankerous ways proved costly at the start at his Kranji debut on July 11, when ninth behind The Brotherhood.
He turned his head as the start was effected. As a result, he had difficulty in jumping away cleanly, got very unbalanced and lost several lengths.
He was last and then beat only three home in the Restricted Maiden event over the Polytrack 1,100m.
A gelding operation was performed last month.
It proved to be the winning move, giving Clements the first leg of his treble and firing him to the front of the trainers' premiership table again with 42 winners to Mark Walker's 40.
"He took a lot of improvement from the gelding operation," said Clements, who also won with Iron Ruler (Race 3) and Bushido (Race 7).
He added that Ablest Ascend's Australian trainer, Trevor Sutherland, rated the horse highly. The horse had two starts there for a fourth.
"He didn't run very well here either, so we decided to geld him and he has really furnished out since," he said.
"He ran two lovely trials, where he showed a lot of speed, and he showed that again in his race."
His two trials, after his debut ninth, yielded a win and a third placing.
Ridden by jockey Louis-Philippe Beuzelin on Saturday, Ablest Ascend jumped on terms with the rest in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden over 1,200m on turf.
Supported to $19, compared to $191 for his debut, he was sent to the lead. Beuzelin dropped anchor mid-race to give his mount a nice breather.
River Brilliance hunted Ablest Ascend and issued a strong challenge in the straight. But Beuzelin still had a lapful, after enjoying the soft lead.
Responding to the Frenchman's strong urging, Ablest Ascend found his second wind to win by half a length from the fast-finishing $14 favourite Lim's Dreamwalker.
The winning time was pretty good, 1min 10.83sec.
"Louis rated him very well. Turning for home, the horse had a lot of petrol in the tank after they had a soft lead. He was sitting up at the top of the straight," said Clements.
He was not too disappointed with his second runner, Tigarous, who finished fifth, 31/2 lengths behind.
Ridden by champion jockey Vlad Duric, Tigarous ran on well at the finish.
"It was too short for Tigarous. He's looking for further," said Clements.
"He did it the hard way out wide. He ran on, but he was one-paced in the end."