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Ghalib to double dose

Clements-Nunes duo believe I Am Invincible four-year-old can frank debut winning form

After a convincing debut win for the Al-Arabiya Stable on Aug 13, Ghalib should be all fired up for a repeat feat on Saturday.

First of all, it will feel like deja vu with most of the race conditions remaining the same.

The Michael Clements-trained I Am Invincible four-year-old is having another shot at the same course and distance – turf and 1,200m – and the same grade of opposition – Class 4.

Not to mention the extra benefit of enjoying the services of champion jockey Manoel Nunes again.

Even with the variables changed, the odds can shorten further.

Ghalib would have tightened up in the four weeks since that win and, on top of that, he has drawn the inside alley this time.

But Nunes said that gate advantage was a double-edged sword for a horse whose barrier manners are not quite up to scratch.

“I’m very happy with Ghalib. He looks well and his coat is shiny,” said the Brazilian four-time Singapore champion jockey.

“The only problem with him is he doesn’t stay long in the barriers.

“At his first run, I was actually surprised he jumped good. He went in last and the moment he went in, the gates opened.

“Michael did ask for him to go last, and (head starter) John Pepe knows that, too. So, I presume he will be loaded last again tomorrow.

“They also need to hold his tail. If he begins well, I think he’ll be very competitive.”

Nunes has trialled Ghalib only once since their first victorious combination.

A fourth to Katak, beaten by more than six lengths, may look lacklustre, but Nunes was not giving that run too much weight.

Not only was he again backward at despatch, but Polytrack does not seem to be his strongest suit.

“I trialled him last week (Sept 5), and he was again slow out of the gates,” said Nunes.

“One of the horses who beat him was Knippenberg (second to Katak), who will run in the same race tomorrow.

“But don’t worry too much about that run. He’s a better horse on grass; the other horses trialled better than him.

“I cantered him yesterday, over two laps of the uphill track, and I can assure you the horse is fit.”

Clements said that he had left Ghalib relatively alone – except for a couple of gallops like Monday’s.

“We’ve just kept him ticking over. He had his final gallop on Monday,” he said.

“It’s been four weeks since that run, and he’s come back well fitness-wise. We actually didn’t do much with him.

“I’m happy with the way he’s improved from that first-up win, which was pretty impressive.

“It’s, however, a strong Class 4 race with a lot of horses with good recent form.

“He also comes up in weight but he has more racing fitness.”

Stablemate Makin was also entered on Saturday, in the last race, the Class 4 Division 1 race (1,100m), but will eventually stay in his box.

The Al-Arabiya-owned Written Tycoon four-year-old debuted for Nunes the same day as Ghalib, along with the more accomplished Asif, but finished out of the placings. He did not fare any better at a second run on Aug 27.

On the other hand, Asif went one better after his debut second, which leaves only Makin to open his account for Al-Arabiya’s Mansoor Gandhi.

“Makin was scratched in the last race as the owner prefers to run him on turf. Nothing wrong with him,” said Clements.

“He needs more time. He had an educational jumpout with Ghalib on Wednesday and is improving.”