Another Big Hearted performance
Trainer Michael Clements' rising star is right on course for the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge Series
The aptly named Big Hearted endorsed himself as a strong candidate for the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge Series with yet another powerful burst of speed at Kranji on Saturday.
Trainer Michael Clements, although confident, admitted he had his heart in his mouth when his rising star trailed so far back in the $50,000 Class 4 race over the Polytrack 1,200m.
But there was no stopping the Falcon Racing No. 7 Stable-owned Australian-bred once he set sail in the straight and produced his trademark finish.
Ridden by reigning Singapore champion apprentice jockey Simon Kok for his 2kg claim to bring the handicap down to a handy 56kg, Big Hearted motored home to beat class dropper Axel by an easy length in 1min 12.25sec.
Third, a head away, was front-runner Winning Legend.
It was Big Hearted's fourth success in seven starts. He was second twice. He has earned about $180,000 in prize money.
Big Hearted left on level terms with the field from his wide barrier and dropped back second-last. He trailed by about a dozen lengths, having only 11-year-old Supernova behind him.
Winning Legend led by about half a length early from Performante and last-start winner Golden Dash. Axel was next.
Big Hearted, travelling a bit wide, picked up one more runner round the bend but was still about 10 lengths behind the ZL Mok-trained Winning Legend.
Golden Dash, Performante, Axel and then Chocante went after Winning Legend once they saw daylight. Big Hearted loomed up wide and let down nicely but still half a dozen lengths adrift.
Responding to Kok's vigorous riding, Big Hearted hit top gear with 200m to go and raced past Winning Legend and company with 75m left to run.
"Look, it's clear that's the way to ride him, he's got a really strong finish. It's a bit nerve-racking obviously, having him drop back in the field like that. But, you know, he's got such a great turf of foot," said Clements.
"Obviously, even he was so far back, we were still confident he should come up with the goods."
Clements added that he will now earmark his $10 winner for the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge Series, starting with the $175,000 Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint over 1,200m on June 13.
Kok certainly did his homework, including seeking advice from Big Hearted's previous winning jockey, three-time champion Vlad Duric. He went into the race well prepared.
"I watched his replays - sometimes he can jump awkwardly, slow out of the gates - and I spoke to Duric and he said just to have to ride him a bit patient and he'll find you a good turn of foot," said Kok.
"I felt he's a big-striding horse, he finds his own balance and I just had to trust him, you know. From the 600m, when I started to make a move on him, he quickened really well.
"I've got no doubt he'll become a Group horse one day."