Starlight and Sincerely going places
Wins by the pair take reigning champion trainer Clements to the lead on third day of new season
Reigning Singapore champion trainer Michael Clements has taken the driver's seat at just the third meeting of the new season with his double on Saturday.
Wins by his two-from-two ace Starlight and the promising Sincerely have taken the former two-time Zimbabwe champion's tally to four winners, one ahead of Mark Walker, Daniel Meagher and Jerome Tan.
The PSM Racing Stable-owned Starlight, regarded as a top horse in the making, proved his debut win over 1,200m on the Polytrack was no fluke.
The three-year-old Australian-bred, who cost A$210,000 (S$215,000) as a two-year-old, not only showed abundant speed again but also fighting spirit on Saturday.
The switch to the turf was also of no consequence.
Ridden by Louis-Philippe Beuzelin, the bay/brown gelding led like his first start - as the $10 favourite in the $75,000 Novice event over 1,200m - and was pestered by the $14 second fancy Be You.
Be You, under leading jockey Ruan Maia, appeared to have stuck his head in front on straightening and they broke away to make it a two-horse affair.
Under a vigorous ride by Beuzelin, Starlight gave more in the final 50m to win by half a length. He clocked a smart 1min 10.22sec, despite a slow sectional of 25.53sec for the first 400m.
Deputising for Clements, assistant trainer Michael White was clearly a relieved man at the winner's circle. But he stood by his spontaneous assessment that Starlight is one of the best he has dealt with at Kranji.
The Australian also reiterated his fears about the flip side of the exciting prospect - his jittery mannerisms.
"I'm still very nervous when he heads out there. He's still nowhere near the finished article. We haven't done much with him and he still doesn't know what he's doing," said White.
"But he's beaten a handy horse in Be You. The day his brain is linked to his engine, he'll be a much better horse.
"With time, he will get longer and I believe he doesn't necessarily have to lead. When he learns to relax, I think he'll be a good chaser.
"But, from barrier two, we took advantage of his good gate speed to let him dictate."
White was equally impressed with Sincerely, who stepped up on his third behind Super Dynasty in the Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes over the Poly 1,600m to take the $85,000 Class 2 race over 1,400m on turf.
But he admitted the low handicap - 48.5kg after leading apprentice jockey Hakim Kamaruddin's 1.5kg claim - was the decisive factor.
After travelling just behind Nepean and Muraahib, the Falcon Racing No. 7 Stable-owned Sincerely hit the front 150m out for a 1/2-length win from the late-closing Per Inpower in a good 1min 21.77sec.
"This horse has really improved. He ran well in the Colonial Chief Stakes," said White.
"He had a few issues when he first came, but the thing we found about horses from Europe is they need about 12 months to run to their best. So, the long time off was a blessing to him.
"The distance was a bit of a concern today, as he's more of a miler, but the 48.5kg helped him. That gave him a licence to burn up early when he sat behind the lead.
"Hakim rode a clever race by putting him in a handy spot throughout. He needs more ground. I think he can even go up to 2,000m."
It was Sincerely's second success in six starts. He also won his debut, over 1,200m on a yielding track in Class 3.