The 'Count' holds winning form
Trainer Clements' Kranji Mile contenders gear up on training track
If you were one of thousands who let out that collective “wow” when Countofmontecristo whipped his rivals on July 11, well, let’s just say you haven’t seen anything yet.
If anything, what you saw on your television screen that afternoon when racing resumed at Kranji was a sort of preview to the main act.
That, we all know is Sunday’s $1 million Kranji Mile.
The race has been in trainer Michael Clements’ crosshairs all along and, up to now, Countofmontecristo has not disappointed.
In preparation for Sunday’s assignment which is, well, over the 1,600m on grass, Clements sent his seven-year-old for a training spin and, like always, the last-start winner ticked all the boxes. He had stablemate Top Knight for company.
With Louis-Philippe Beuzelin in the saddle, the “Count” clocked 37.5sec for the 600m, pulling away from his illustrious stable companion over the concluding stages.
Incidentally, Top Knight has also been entered for the rich middle-distance event and, if the race is run to suit, he could be a huge factor at the finish.
After all, his showings over the trip have been impeccable.
Three of Top Knight’s seven wins have been over the mile – beginning with that victory early in his career when he was in Class 4.
It culminated with that runaway success in the Singapore Guineas, where he smacked mighty talented horses like Elite Incredible, Lim’s Lightning and Siam Vipasiri.
Then, just before racing took a break because of Covid-19, Top Knight was narrowly beaten by Siam Blue Vanda in the Stewards’ Cup, which could easily have been named The Clements’ Cup, given the fact that the trainer filled five of the first six placings.
Sure and right now, the “Count” is the star, but don’t rule out Top Knight. He’s been there and done that. Keep him in your calculations.
But, I reckon, come Sunday, we’ll all be trying to find something to couple with Countofmontecristo who, on the strength of yesterday’s gallop, is in devastating condition and worthy of that “favourite” tag.
Beuzelin, who has recently been doing a lot of riding – and winning – for Clements, worked another of the Zimbabwe- born trainer’s horses – Heartening Flyer – and, on that showing, the young horse looks like one more for your notebook.
With Knight Love for company, Heartening Flyer made light of the 600m, clocking 35sec for the trip.
Having caught the eye and attention of racegoers when he turned in a smart trial on July 14, Heartening Flyer brought that form to the racetrack on July 26. It was a winning debut.
The margin was only three parts of a length – but it was easier than it looked. Just turned four, Heartening Flyer can only get better.
Sure, he comes up against four other debut winners and a host of young upstarts in Sunday’s Novice sprint.
But, in the form he is in and with Beuzelin urging him on, he could be the one “flying” home at the finish.