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Celavi, Clements’ 1-2

Stablemate Starlight finishes second in $110,000 Group 3 Merlion Trophy

A fitter Celavi and the perfect running style sealed the $110,000 Group 3 Merlion Trophy for trainer Michael Clements at Kranji on Saturday.

A run previous, the prolific mare was the beaten $10 favourite in a Class 2 race over the Polytrack 1,100m. It was her first run from a 21/2-month break and she did not get to play her favourite rabbit's role.

French jockey Louis-Philippe Beuzelin managed to secure the lead on Saturday, after jumping from the second-widest barrier in the field of 11 for the final feature on the final race day of the 2021 Singapore racing saason.

The $20 second favourite was able to catch her breath from the halfway mark. By the home turn, it was evident the only rose among the thorns had her rivals on their backfoot.

She had 11/4 lengths to spare from stablemate Starlight. She clocked 1min 11.10sec for the Polytrack 1,200m.

Fame Star, the Leslie Khoo-trained $128 outsider who led briefly from an inner draw, was third, a head away. Gold Star was fourth. The $15 favourite Kharisma could finish only fifth.

Celavi has taken her record to seven wins, a second and a third from 12 starts, She has amassed about $300,000 for Celavi Stable. She was Clements' second Merlion Trophy winner, after Countofmontecristo in 2019.

"It's great to win the race we have earmarked for Celavi for some time. It's great when a plan comes together like that," said the Zimbabwe-born handler. "We had programmed that race for her for a while. At her last start, she didn't have the pace but the race brought her on."

With her "ordinary barrier", it was thought that Fame Star would lead. The plan was to settle behind with the concern that she could be outpaced.

"It turned out she had the control of the race when Louis pressed on to go forward. We know she is capable of doing it at both ends, but I was a bit anxious she was used up too much," said Clements. "But she was strong up the straight, she wasn't vulnerable at all. She was able to go all the way."

The lanky trainer also paid tribute to his runner-up, who won the Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1,400m in late July.

"Starlight is a promising horse but has been a work in progress. He's taken a long time to settle down even if he was a Group 2 winner as a three-year-old," said Clements. "I'm really excited about his future."