Fingers crossed for Chopin
Bleeder gets thumbs up after trial on Tuesday
It happened on April 1. But it was no joking matter. April Fool's Day or not, it was devastating for trainer Michael Clements and his team when Chopin's Fantaisie returned to scale bleeding from the nostrils.
He had just won a Kranji Stakes B race over the 1,400m. But when there should have been champagne and celebration, there was doom and gloom. It was the second time Chopin's Fantaisie had bled and it meant a mandatory six months on the sidelines.
So off he went, packed up and put out to pasture in the open space in Malaysia which serves as a spelling station.
The six months quickly turned to nine months and it was on Tuesday that Chopin's Fantaisie was next seen on the racetrack. The occasion was the trials on Tuesday and the five-year-old had Glen Boss on the reins. Out of the gates with the rest, Boss never asked him to do more than what was required.
The pair eventually beat just one home in the trial won by Ararat Lady - but no one was keeping score.
All that mattered was that Chopin's Fantaisie's welfare and, on that count, it seemed all went well.
"He had a great trial," said Clements. "He jumped well and was interested throughout.
"Glen sat on him and said he could have anytime pushed him up and he would have moved away, but he held on to him.
"I'll give him another trial in two weeks' time and we'll take it from there."
Back to that win in April, he had run a lung-buster of a race and his connections were already dreaming big dreams when Vlad Duric brought him back to scale.
In their crystal ball, they saw the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge and the Derby.
Then they saw the one thing which dashed all plans. Chopin's Fantaisie had bled - again.
To say it was another spanner in the works was a gross understatement. All the patience and hard work to bring him back had been snuffed out in just one race.
But no one was about to give up on the gelding. Like he did after that first bleeding attack, Clements and his team are now hoping for the same. And that is, that Chopin's Fantaisie returns as an even better horse.
"The good thing about him is while bleeding is a horrible experience for most horses, he seems to bounce back well from it.
"He's only lightly-raced, and he has the greatest temperament. You can do anything with him."
Still, Clements is taking no chances. Another bleeding attack, and it could be "game over" for the gallant gelding.
So it is, for now, nothing's cast in stone. "We have not locked in any race for him," said the trainer.