Chopin's Fantaisie heading for better things
Trainer Clements' 3YO makes it two from two
Three-year-old CHOPIN'S FANTAISIE duly followed up on his impressive debut win to make it two-in-a-row at Kranji on Sunday, but not without giving some heart flutters to his connections and backers.
Backed down to $9 favouritism, the Michael Clements-trained galloper was considered a good thing to claim the $75,000 Race Ahead 2010 Stakes, a Novice event over 1,400m.
This was despite certain quarters arguing he was a bit over the odds with the presence of other smart sorts like Magic City, Hangman and stablemate Leon, who was back in easier grade after his unplaced run in the Group 1 Singapore Guineas.
They were proven to be right on the money in the end, but Magic City (Manoel Nunes) certainly did not serve it to him on a silver platter.
Trainer Laurie Laxon's Brazilian-bred, an all-the-way winner at his second run, was not one to be unseated so easily after having a fairly cushy time up front.
After sliding up from a fairly handy spot to issue his challenge upon straightening, Chopin's Fantaisie looked a moral at that point, but Magic City showed he was no pushover as he went full throttle hard up against the rails.
For a moment, it looked like the hotpot would be thwarted, but Duric had actually left something up his sleeve. Known for his strong whip-riding, the Australian jockey had, by his standards, only cuddled up his mount as they drew on level terms with Magic City, only waiting for the last 100m to let it fly.
In a slugfest to the line, the pair kept locking horns until the stalemate was broken, as Chopin's Fantaisie touched out his tenacious rival by a head.
Leon (Michael Rodd) rattled home on the outside to finish third, one-and-three-quarter lengths away.
The winning time was 1min 23.06sec for the 1,400m on the long course.
"There were some anxious moments up the straight," said a relieved Clements.
"He's still a very green horse and had a lot to do at his first start. He is pretty leggy, but he got things together today.
"He is a laid-back horse, pretty straightforward, even if he is not a great workhorse. I think he has a great future here.
"I will listen to what Vlad has to say, but on pedigree, he should get over more ground.
"I was also happy with Leon. He took a clod of mud at his last run and his eye was swollen, but he's come back good and ran a super race today."
Duric jumped off the Jubilant Racing Stable-owned Chopin's Fantaisie with a big thumbs-up in spite of the narrow win. To the Australian, the penny has not dropped yet, and he is already two from two.
"It was a very determined win. He's a real trier but he's still a raw bugger," said Duric.
"It took a few strides for him to get composed. Once I gave him a couple of taps, he gave a nice kick to put his head in front on the line.
"He will be a ripper of a horse, and will for sure get up to the mile (1,600m) and mile-and-a-quarter (2,000m). He will keep progressing, he's got a good head on him and has plenty of upsides about him.
"He will go through his grades and will be a better horse next year."