Clements’ awesome foursome at Kranji
Prosperous Return leads rare training quartet in Race 10, also reignites Singapore Derby hopes
Racing history books were rewritten yesterday when Michael Clements became the first trainer to saddle a quartet at Kranji.
Not only was it a rare training feat here, but the close finish would also make the handicapper very proud.
A blanket could be thrown over the four stablemates at the wire.
Prosperous Return (Ronnie Stewart) came out tops, a neck ahead of the dead-heating Quarter Back (Bernardo Pinheiro) and Spirit Of Big Bang (Vlad Duric) while Karisto (Ibrahim Mamat) was fourth another 3/4-length away.
Whether Clements’ tour de force was an absolute first is subject to further digging of the racing archives – not always a straightforward exercise given the wide variance in recording systems over the 180 years of Singapore racing, dating back to the Bukit Timah years and pre-war era at Farrer Park.
Clements for one would not feel robbed if history buffs throw up a name later. The 2020 Singapore champion trainer will take the Kranji accolade any time.
The individual performances bore higher merit to him.
“We came into this race with a number of chances,” said the soft-spoken trainer.
“Prosperous Return was the young up-and-coming horse, Spirit Of Big Bang had good form, Quarter Back has been running well but had barrier problems, and Karisto was the first ride for our young apprentice Ibrahim.
“But to finish 1-2-3-4 was a long shot I would never have thought of.
“It’s unbelievable, but it’s above all a great result for us and the horses.”
Spirit Of Big Bang was the pick of the four Clements among punters, and it sure was looking that way when Duric pointed him to a rails gap at the 300m.
But the Irish-bred’s hopes were blighted by the resuming Prosperous Return, who made light of any queries over his recent bleeding with a powerful burst.
He did float a little late but his sheer will to win ground out a courageous victory.
Clements’ eyes had been given a serious workout inside the last 200m, but as Prosperous Return returned to scales, blurry visions of a shiny trophy were still dancing around in his head.
After the Fighting Sun four-year-old’s unfortunate bleeding episode in the wake of an impresssive first-up win in February, Clements had all but put a line through a four-year-old campaign towards the Singapore Derby (1,800m) for him.
But after yesterday’s stunner, he was having a happy headache.
“Prosperous Return was travelling very well leading up to the straight. He finished off really good,” he said.
“We have to consider him in the Derby and make a decision by the end of the week, but we have to do the right thing by the horse, even if it’s tempting to run him.
“Besides, there are many other options after the Derby like the Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the Singapore Gold Cup.”
Stewart sounded more bullish he would team up again with the victor on July 17.
“From the tricky draw (seven), I ran the race in my head many times,” said the Australian hoop.
“He got a nice unimpeded run and a nice suck into the race.
“He can go for the Derby route provided he pulls up good.
“He did peak on his run which tells me we have some work to do until the Derby. But we still have the time to get some improvement out of him.
“If we get the right run, he can get the job done.”
Yesterday’s meeting also saw newbie trainer Mahadi Taib train his first winner, Jungle King, at only his second day at the office.