Clements unveils another smart 3yo, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Clements unveils another smart 3yo

Newcomer Takanini wins on raw ability, but needs more tests if targets are to be raised

Argentinian first-timer Takanini lived up to the strong market support behind his Kranji debut with a slashing win on Sunday.

Punted down to solid $18 favouritism in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden race (1,200m), the latest recruit from Michael Clements’ big squad of 15 three-year-olds has taken little time to showcase his potential.

Well held together in midfield by jockey Simon Kok, the son of Key Deputy did his best work at the finish when he was brought out into the clear at the top of the straight.

Favourite Arya Pakuan (Calvin Habib) and debutant Sweet N Sour (Jerlyn Seow) were thereabouts, but not doing each other any favours.

Third on debut, Arya Pakuan was vying for a gap in a bid to go two better, but had to take a slight check when Sweet N Sour rolled in under pressure. Truth be told, their challenges also lacked punch.

But not that of Fight On, who was looming thick and fast on the outside, only for waywardness to get in the way.

Unable to extract the best out of the Fighting Sun three-year-old, who was laying in badly, jockey Matthew Kellady had to take corrective action. That broke his stride and eventually cost him a second podium finish in five starts.

But take nothing away from the winner who, despite coming through a different formative regimen in Argentina, was the epitome of professionalism through and through.

“In Argentina, they don’t have trials like we do here. Other than their pre-training, there’s not much to go with,” said Clements.

“Besides, he’s the type of horse who doesn’t show a lot. It was the same at the trials, he worked okay.

“But he did well when we stepped him up on his work. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him.”

Takanini may have landed in the yard as a blank canvas, but the 2020 Singapore champion trainer can tap into his wealth of experience with three-year-olds to join the dots.

Racing is not an exact science, but the Zimbabwe-born trainer has had enough success with Countofmontecristo, Top Knight, Bold Thruster and Tiger Roar to trust his instincts.

“I told the owners he’s got a bit of a brain, and if he handles the race pressure and does not wash out, or is too uptight, he should run well,” said Clements.

“I told them he was definitely a top-three chance. To be honest, I thought he’d be in the market, but maybe not favourite.”

Whether Takanini makes his way into Clements’ shortlist towards the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge will probably depend on the follow-up.

In-house competition is not in short supply, though.

Both Ejaz ($9), regarded as the 3YO benchmark for Team Clements, and Coin Toss ($11) also scored first-up from a break, even if the former gave connections a fright when he shortened up late to survive by a nose from a late lunge from King Zoustar (Seow) in the $50,000 Class 4 race (1,200m).

Clements is more than ever spoiled for choice if Petrograd and a host of Pacific Stable newbies waiting in the wings are brought into the equation.

Winner of the trainer’s honours with a four-timer on Sunday (Pacific Angel sprang a $43 surprise earlier), the in-form handler was at this stage not getting ahead of himself. He is just relying on natural selection to let the pecking order sort itself.

Time was not on Takanini’s side either, but that was not a dimension that Clements could not work with.

“It’ll be a bit of a push to get him to the 3YO series. It’ll definitely be too tight for the first leg,” he said, in allusion to the Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1,200m) on April 8.

The second and third legs are more within the time frame, but whether they are within his distance compass is a query.

The Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic (1,400m) and Group 2 Singapore Guineas (1,600m) come up on April 29 and May 5 respectively.

“He has a lot of speed. He may need another run or two to qualify for the other legs,” said Clements.

“But whatever he did today, he will step up on his game.”