Clements kicks off with Mortal Engine
Plenty of thrills and spills on the opening day of 2021 Singapore racing season at Kranji
Newly crowned Singapore champion trainer Michael Clements got off to an auspicious start by winning his first race of the year yesterday, in what was an eventful first day of the 2021 racing season at Kranji.
The Zimbabwe-born naturalised Singaporean saddled his promising newcomer, Mortal Engine, to win with his raw ability in the second of 10 races.
The day also saw other close finishes, including a near triple dead-heat, two new class records, a racefall and a three-timer from Ruan Maia.
At the just-ended 2020 season, Maia lost by just three winners to four-time Singapore champion Vlad Duric, who was serving a two-day suspension for careless riding.
Ridden by French jockey Louis-Philippe Beuzelin, the Tivic Stable-owned Mortal Engine brought his trial-winning form to the races, although he still carried some excess fat.
The dashing three-year-old black/brown gelding jumped well to lead briefly. Beuzelin was contented to stay in the box-seat, after Bad Boy Black and Strong N Smart overtook him.
He got the lead back shortly after straightening in the $75,000 Prosperity Stakes for Restricted Maiden horses over 1,200m on the Long Course A.
The Steven Burridge-trained and Wong Chin Chuen-ridden Ironprince made a bold bid late to come within a head of the winner, who clocked 1min 10.97sec on the yielding track.
While looking forward to a top showing, Clements' confidence level dropped somewhat with the prevailing wet weather.
The trainer pointed to his newcomer's only outing in Australia, where he finished last of 11 runners on a heavy track.
"What he's shown us in his gallops and trials had been very good. There were indications he would go well first-up, but there were some concerns over the rain-affected track," he said.
"But he handled it very well. He showed us a lot of speed in his gallops and I told Louis to try and get the box-seat from the inside barrier. I think he will improve off that run, as he still had a bit of condition on him."
Backed to favouritism in the last few seconds, Mortal Engine paid $14 for a win.
Clements had fielded only six runners in four races yesterday.
The opening race saw a head-head finish from Per Incrown, Leading Cellist and Plato respectively in the $30,000 Welcome 2021 Stakes for Class 5 Div 1 horses over the Poly 1,600m.
But, just two races later, racegoers witnessed a near triple dead heat. The Shane Baertschiger-trained Vulcan, donning blinkers for the first time, got up to share first placing with the Leslie Khoo-trained Proof Perfect in the $50,000 Class 4 Div 2 race over the Poly 1,100m.
The pair were only a nose in front of the Jason Lim-trained It's Got It All, who survived an objection by the rider of his fourth-placed stablemate and the strongly supported newcomer, Songgong Hera, for alleged interference.
In the following event, Mark Walker, runner-up to Clements last season, provided a 1-2-3 finish that included the good debut by Singapore's woman apprentice jockey, Jerlyn Seow Poh Hui.
Seow, 27, tried to lead all the way in the $30,000 Class 5 event over the Poly 1,000m on Black Quail. But she was caught in the final 100m by apprentice Hakim Kamaruddin on stablemate What You Like.
Another stablemate, Happy Friday, the mount of jockey Benny Woodworth, got up to beat Just Stars for third,
The day's proceedings were marred by a racefall in Race 6.
Apprentice jockey Krisna Thangamani was dislodged from Gold City. While it appeared serious, Krisna finally got up after lying still. He was reported to be okay.
Trainer Lee Freedman's Super Invincible set a new Class 3 record for the Poly 1,000m in 57.73sec in Race 7. He eclipsed Skywalk's time of 57.92sec.
Skywalk's 1min 10.48sec Kranji Stakes A record for the Poly 1,200m was also rewritten. The Jerome Tan-trained Surpass Natural took Race 9 in 1min 09.89sec.
Maia was denied a four-timer in the final race on I Am Sacred, who was caught on the line by the Burridge-trained and Wong-ridden Wealth Elite. The Brazilian had earlier got off to a splendid start to the new season with Per Incrown, Super Invincible and Surpass Natural.