Clements ends Saturday with a big bang
Spirit Of Big Bang rounds up the champion trainer's four-timer to stretch his season's tally to 25 wins
Fresh from his doubles from the preceding two race days, reigning champion trainer Michael Clements continued his winning ways with a louder bang at Kranji on Saturday, when he saddled four winners.
His successes came from The Shadow, Day Approach, Big Hearted and the aptly named Spirit Of Big Bang.
Jockey Shafrizal Saleh rode The Shadow, who was having his first run for Clements who took over the horse from Donna Logan. Frenchman Louis-Philippe Beuzelin was astride the other three winners.
The prolific haul took Clements' season's tally to 25, seven clear of Mark Walker, who kept up the chase with Accumulation and newcomer Mystery Power, a United Kingdom Group 2 winner.
Spirit Of Big Bang's success in the $70,000 Class 3 race over 1,600m on turf gave Clements immense satisfaction, as well as hope for the $1 million Group 1 Kranji Mile on May 22. This is the race his Singapore Gold Cup winner Big Hearted is also aiming at.
Spirit Of Big Bang had a threatening career-ending injury after his last victory on Jan 10 last year.
The Irish-bred fractured a bone in the hoof when he got loose on the trotting track and had a head-on collision with another loose horse.
"The vet didn't give a very good prognosis, but he has come back good," said Clements.
"He was away for over a year. He had two good prep runs (both thirds in Class 3 races), and it was his race to win today."
Clements admitted the race did not pan out as expected. But, even if it did not look pretty, a win is a win.
The Team Cheval & Goldenhill Racing Stable-owned six-year-old ended up as a reluctant front-runner.
Beuzelin decided to allow his mount to travel as comfortably as possible, before giving him a first taste of the persuader shortly after straightening.
A winner from off the speed at his previous three Kranji wins, all also over the course and distance, Spirit Of Big Bang was treading into unfamiliar territory by spearheading the charge from the front for the entire journey.
The length of the straight must have felt endless, as the race was on the long course. He was running on fumes inside the last 100m, but he hung on for dear life to fend off Augustus (Wong Chin Chuen) by a head.
Spirit Of Big Bang's stablemate So Hi Class (A'Isisuhairi Kasim), who enjoyed a cosier rails-hugging run in transit but was stuck in traffic from the top of the straight, powered home strongly for third. He was a length away.
"We thought the only pacemaker would be Asaad, and Spirit Of Big Bang would then sit off him. But, when Asaad missed the start, he found himself landing in front," said Clements.
"He held on well. He fought on well to win a nice race."
Sent out the $11 favourite, Spirit Of Big Bang clocked 1min 36.14sec.
Having not finished out of the placings at his other five starts, Spirit Of Big Bang has seen his prizemoney shoot past the $130,000 mark.
"I had to go for Plan X on Spirit Of Big Bang," said Beuzelin, after the original plans to follow Asaad went out the window from the start.
"He was extremely quick out of the gates. He was a bit keen as he had a lot of horses alongside him.
"I then decided to take him wider to give him more chance to relax, which he did. He got a nice breather.
"I had my own way in front, and then I decided to steal the race from them. He just kept going and held on well."