Tiger Roar eyes the Kranji Mile

But hat-trick winner’s berth depends on the withdrawal of many higher-rated entries

The progressive stayer Tiger Roar made himself heard loud and clear yet again with his hattrick and fourth win from seven starts at Kranji on Saturday.

With that, the connections of the three-year-old are hoping for a crack at the $1 million Kranji Mile over 1,600m on May 22.

His owner, Falcon Racing No. 7 Stable, had earlier paid the late nomination fee of $535 to enter its rising star in the Group 1 feature.

But, while Michael Clement was impressed with the latest victory, the reigning champion trainer is not optimistic of earning a berth due to the many higher-rated entries.

Even with the five-point hike in his rating to 73, Clements reckoned Tiger Roar “is still not going to make it, unless many horses drop out”.

“It’s a pity, as I saw there are a lot of sprinters ahead of him on the list. Tiger Roar will definitely run out a strong mile, he would have been a deserving runner, but rules are rules. He doesn’t qualify.”

On Saturday, Tiger Roar met quite a strong Class 3 field in the $70,000 Class 3 event over 1,400m on turf.

The opposition included smart stablemate Heartening Flyer and an Australian Listed winner in Sun Power, to name just two. But the real concern in the camp was barrier two, seen as a poisoned chalice by Clements – and rightly so.

At his last race, after starting from a middle gate in an identical contest four weeks ago, the Wandjina three-year-old had acres of land and tons of clear air to spare when he swung for home down the outside.

Once he hit top gear, he rocketed home for an uninterrupted charge to the wire, leaving his rivals rooted to the ground.

Even if the winning margin  was only 3/4 lengths, the Tiger had given them a mauling all right.

This time round, such space was a luxury at the 400m mark, as he found himself cluttered up behind a wall of runners.

Alarmingly, he was giving the leading bunch a start of eight lengths, even after Singapore champion apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong had diligently listened to Clements’ advice to pop off the rails early to preempt any traffic snarls.

At the 300m marker, Gold Star (Marc Lerner) looked home and hosed after he also had to zigzag out of strife to tackle the  fighting trio of Elite Incredible (Oscar Chavez), Circuit Mission (Wong Chin Chuen) and Strong N Powerful (John Sundradas).

But Tiger Roar, who was backed down to $11 favouritism at the last minute, after a fierce trading battle with Heartening Flyer, had also found daylight after charting an identical path as Gold Star.

Kok had all this while been busier with ducking and weaving. But the moment clear galloping room presented itself, the growl could finally burst into a full-blown roar.

Unleashing the beast, Tiger Roar went on to finish over the  top of them, to deny Gold Star by just a short head.

Elite Incredible, who is now Tiger Roar’s stablemate after trainer Cliff Brown returned to Australia, ran a creditable third, half a length away.

Tiger Roar stopped the clock in a smart 1min 21.53sec for the 1,400m on the long course.

“For a while, it looked like he wasn’t going to get there,” said Clements. “As he’s a horse that gets back, we thought barrier two would make him vulnerable in a traffic jam.

“I told Simon he had to come off the rails early, and he did. He had to come across horses in the closing stages, and as he’s a pretty classy horse, it’s his class that won him the race.

“He’s definitely looking for further.”

One person who is likely to put his hand up in any race Tiger Roar contests is Kok.

Even if the alarm bells were going off early in Saturday’s race, Kok kept his wits about him, in the end timing the final assault with clockwork precision.

“I wasn’t so confident in the early stages. There was a quicker pace than last time,” said Kok, who was also in the plate at Tiger Roar’s last win.

“There was pressure coming from the outside and 50m after the start, I was struggling to follow.

“But I didn’t panic, I know I just had to balance him up and find a run. Once he got through the gap, he was very strong to the line. He pinged like lightning. He’s a very good horse.”