Favourite Iron Ruler wins by just a nose
He beats his stablemate Voluminous to give Clements his 56th winner
The two protagonists kicked in the straight to fight out the finish, but it was obvious leading trainer Michael Clements would add another winner to his tally - if the result went either way.
The pair were stablemates. They went to the post locked like Siamese twins in the $50,000 Class 4 event over the Polytrack 1,700m on Saturday.
It took a while and the reverse image of the photo finish to declare the $14 favourite, Iron Ruler, the winner from Voluminous. The margin: a mere nose.
The Falcon Racing No. 7 Stable-owned Iron Ruler was Clements' 56th winner of the season, 11 ahead of reigning champion Mark Walker, who replied with Silent Partner in the last of 10 races.
With only two race meetings left, the Zimbabwe-born Clements has virtually sealed his first Singapore premiership title in 22 years.
Iron Ruler has been an honest galloper, with two wins, four seconds and two thirds from 12 starts going into Saturday's race. Despite the widest barrier in the field of 11, he was expected to nail his third victory.
But the chestnut Australian-bred gelding really had to fight hard for it from his much-improved stablemate, who was unplaced in four previous starts.
Both jockeys Vlad Duric and Ryan Munger deserve credit for their handling of Iron Ruler and Voluminous respectively.
Duric managed to cross in nicely from his widest stall. His mount led past the winning post for the first time, narrowly from Helushka.
Also up front were Sun Ace, Lord Of Cloud, Captain Singapore and Voluminous, who also moved to the inside by Munger from the second-widest barrier.
Iron Ruler led into the backstraight by a length from Helushka. Sun Ace was next and soon had Voluminous creeping up on his outside.
Progressing further, Munger allowed Voluminous to overtake Iron Ruler by a length at the halfway mark. Duric was unperturbed.
Voluminous, a five-year-old English-bred mare, was first for home a bit wide. She was hounded by Iron Ruler, wider. Sun Ace was third but could do no more. Captain Singapore loomed up beautifully.
Duric steered Iron Ruler to eyeball Voluminous shortly after straightening. At one stage, Iron Ruler appeared to pop his head in front. The Clements-trained pair then broke away to settle the issue.
Voluminous rallied back. In a touch-and-go finish,Iron Ruler put his nose down when it mattered most. He clocked 1min 44.09sec.
Captain Singapore, trained by Young Keah Yong and ridden by apprentice jockey Shafrizal Saleh, ran third. He was 31/4 lengths away.
Filling in for Clements, assistant trainer Michael White said: "It's a good result for both horses. Iron Ruler is still work in progress. But, when he gets the rails, he really finds another gear.
"Today, he had to come on the outside, but he still did a good job to win.
"As for Voluminous, she put the writing on the wall at her last start. It wasn't the plan to go forward, but Ryan made the right decision.
"She's a dour staying mare who has improved a lot. We thought she would be a decent chance today. If she pulls up well, there is a Class 4 race over 2,000m for her next week."