Celavi on track for another turf shot
Clements is bucking the trend by putting his Polytrack specialist through grass routine
Speedy mare Celavi gave her customary exhibition gallop at her barrier trial yesterday morning.
She won it by 31/2 lengths.
But it is a less orthodox routine on other days that has piqued the curiosity of Kranji trackwatchers lately.
Last year’s Group 3 Merlion Trophy (1,200m) winner has been stepping out onto the turf course proper for some light exercise on her own.
It is well documented that grass is Celavi’s Kryptonite, turning the speed demon into a damp squib.
All her eight wins were on the Polytrack, from 1,000m to 1,200m.
Only a quarter of her 16 starts were turf tests, with the solitary third placing.
As much as she is bomb-proof on the all-weather, it narrows down her vista of racing opportunities.
Well aware of that, trainer Michael Clements has tried to debunk the one-trick pony myth once or twice.
But, regrettably, it was always back to the drawing board.
With the biggest prize in sprints, the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1,200m) run on turf looming on Aug 14 – and time not on Celavi’s side – Clements is having another crack.
“We all know she hasn’t gone well on turf. But I’ve recently got her to gallop quite often on turf, just so she gets used to the underfoot conditions,” said the 2020 Singapore champion trainer.
“It’s only a light gallop, and it’s once a week. She has been doing it for three weeks now.
“She was stargazing at first as it was a new environment, but she got quite comfortable in the end.
“But she’ll need to let down at three-quarter pace or full pace at some stage.”
Someone else might have already come to terms Celavi is not cut out for turf, but Clements does not give up so easily.
“She’s an Australian-bred filly. In theory, she should go well on turf. There’s no reason why she shouldn’t,” he said.
“I think it’s because she raced mostly on Polytrack in her early racing days. It was like nine races on Polytrack at her first two seasons, she just got used to it, and that suited her.
“From the time she arrived and acclimatised, she never got on turf at all. She was not used to it, she was not comfortable on it.
“If straightaway, she had gone over turf, I think she would’ve been okay with it by now.
“So, if she suddenly shows us she can take the new turf gallops, we have to look at the Lion City Cup.”
Until that Holy Grail, which could be akin to a flat champion tackling the Grand National, Clements has set his sights on her forte next Saturday – a Class 1 race over the Polytrack 1,100m, albeit he was a little ruffled there was a slight change of plans.
“Next week, there is a Class 1 race over 1,100m. A similar race was abandoned five weeks ago due to insufficient entries,” he said.
“At this stage, we can only hope there will be sufficient entries this time, and this race will hold.”
French jockey and regular partner Louis-Philippe Beuzelin certainly gave Celavi a nice warm-up in Thursday’s trial victory, in readiness for that contest.
“I was very happy with her trial today. She did exactly what we asked her to do,” said Clements.
“We need her to be competitive. She’s in a good place.
“We have to be mindful that she’s not getting any younger.
“But, as long as she stays bright and happy, we just have to keep her going.”