Clements holds key to Guineas, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Clements holds key to Guineas

High-riding trainer's quintet in top shape but are drawn wide in the $800,000 Group 1 race over 1,600m

High-riding trainer Michael Clements has a stranglehold on Saturday's $800,000 Group 1 Singapore Guineas over 1,600m, final leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge.

He has five good runners in the 16-horse field - on paper, a one-in-three chance of success.

But his quintet took a slight knock as they did not enjoy the luck of the draw - Siam Vipasiri (8), Vittoria Perfetta (10), Siam Blue Vanda (11), Top Knight (12) and Siam Royal Orchid (15).

Their barrriers will move one slot in, if emergency acceptor St Alwyn (6) did not get a start or any horse drawn gate 7 and below is withdrawn.

Of his five, Clements reckons Top Knight - narrow runner-up to Bold Thruster in the first leg over 1,200m and winner of the second leg over 1,400m - is his best chance.

"Top Knight is still my best chance, especially on the long course. He's in the right form and he'll be up there," he said.

"Unfortunately, he didn't draw a great barrier - 12, but he gets back, anyway. I didn't draw great barriers for the others either, the best is 8 for Siam Vipasiri. I guess we'll just have to try and keep out of trouble as it's quite a big field."

Right off the first leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge this year, Clements already had a main core of three contenders - Top Knight, Siam Blue Vanda and Siam Vipasiri.

But, with the mile of the Guineas being a more suitable journey, he tossed in two more entries into the mix - Vittoria Perfetta and Siam Royal Orchid.

"Both Vittoria Perfetta and Siam Royal Orchid were looking for the mile, that's why I ran them only in the Guineas," said Clements.

"Top Knight and Siam Blue Vanda are also looking for the mile. I think even Siam Vipasiri, who's more of a sprinter, will get the trip.

"Siam Blue Orchid is only lightly raced and doesn't have much racing experience. He also had a few minor setbacks.

"He was coughing and the Guineas may have come up a bit early for him, but he has shown ability. It'll be hard at level weights against the higher-rated 3YOs, but I'm sure he'll put up a good show."

Clements, who has one Singapore Guineas on his resume with Revolte in 2009, but when it was not part of the 3YO series then, said his quintet of three-year-olds have all ticked the right boxes at their last prep towards the grand final.

"They all galloped on Monday, except for Siam Royal Orchid on Tuesday and Siam Vipasiri. Glen (Boss) galloped Siam Vipasiri with blinkers on last week," said Clements, who captured the first two legs with Countofmontecristo in 2017, but missed out in the Singapore Guineas when he was beaten in third by Forever Young.

"Ben Thompson galloped Siam Blue Vanda and he said he found the line very well. Vlad (Duric) does not ride Top Knight in trackwork, but the horse has been working great, too."

With Duric sticking with Top Knight - the likely favourite - Vittoria Perfetta, who has always teamed up with the two-time Singapore champion jockey, will be partnered by Daniel Moor for the first time.

Moor was also in the mix for the ride on No Fun No Gain, but on Monday opted for Clements' son of Zoustar, which left trainer Stephen Gray with no other choice but to book Japanese jockey Santoshi Yokenura at the eleventh hour, at No Fun No Gain's Japanese owners' recommendation.

Clements won't have much time for a breather on Super Saturday card.

He also has Countofmontecristo in the $1.5 million Group 1 Kranji Mile (1,600m) and Gingerella in the $800,000 Group 1 Lion City Cup (1,200m), both for owner Joe Singh.

"I'm very pleased with Countofmontecristo. Not only he's maintained his good form, but he's a lot more perked up and brighter," he said.

"His trackwork has been super and Glen is also very happy with him. Joe and I discussed and we decided to put the blinkers on as he ran well with them over the mile last year.

"As for Gingerella, she has also drawn wide in eight, but she's very quick. It's a small field and I think she is quick enough to come across.

"It's good for her they have put the Lion City Cup on the short course before they switch to the long course for the other two big races. There will be a lot of speed. She is racing in a great vein of form and has done a great job so far."