Safeer now eyes the Merlion, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Safeer now eyes the Merlion

Clements-trained talented 4YO again plays giant killer by claiming the scalp of hot favourite Lim's Dream

Playing giant slayer once could be considered a fluke but, to do it twice, ability comes into play.

Following the two top performances, four-year-old Safeer is now bound for a deserving start in the $400,000 Group 2 Merlion Trophy over 1,200m on the Polytrack on Aug 25.

On June 15, Safeer got up to beat a good horse, the odds-on favourite Grand Koonta, by a short head in a Class 3 event over 1,200m. He paid $64.

After a smack-up fifth placing behind Charger in another Class 3 race over 1,200m on July 7, Safeer bounced back on Friday night to claim another big scalp in a similar event.

Lim's Dream, touted to be a Class 1 horse by his trainer Daniel Meagher, looked headed for victory when Safeer unleashed a strong run on the inside to beat the hot favourite by half a length to pay $46.

"He's a horse with a lot of ability, but who has not had much luck with the barriers," said Safeer's trainer, Michael Clements.

"I think he's drawn outside 10 at his last four runs. He scored his last win two starts ago and he beat some good horses then.

"He needs to draw closer on the rails. Things went his way tonight.

"We may take the next step at the Merlion Trophy for him. The owner always had the confidence he would get there."

Jockey Benny Woodworth, who replaced the indisposed Joseph Azzopardi on Friday night, labelled Safeer a talented horse.

"The horse jumped out well, travelled well and got a run on the inside. At one stage, I elected to go to the outside but the run didn't come through," said the Malaysian rider.

"He's a talented horse. If the pace is too slow, he pulls and that doesn't suit him. When he gets the right run, he can then show he is a good horse."

Breaking fairly from his outside gate in the $70,000 Class 3 race over 1200m, Safeer dropped to the back in between runners while $11 favourite Lim's Dream (Syahir Abdul) called the tune upfront.

Into the straight, all eyes were on Lim's Dream as he hung on to his slender lead in a bid to make it a third win in a row.

Charger (Simon WH Kok) and Federation (John Powell), the two regarded as his main threats, were chipping away at the margin, but Lim's Dream was making a good fist of the job of staving them off.

But, all of a sudden, the realisation the real coup de grace could come from elsewhere dawned on everyone when a blue flash snuck up onto the rails - Safeer.

That run had begun when Lucky Lincoln (Daniel Moor) improved at the 750m mark, leaving a gap on the rails which gave Woodworth a golden chance to hug them.

Safeer again took the shortcuts home at the top of the straight after Woodworth momentarily switched his mount across before thinking better of it. Realising he would run into dead ends towards that end, he ducked back to the inside for the shortest way home.

Just when Lim's Dream thought he had his two challengers covered, Safeer surged from the inside to get his measure by half a length.

A four-year-old by Savabeel, Safeer was bringing up his fifth win at his 20th start for more than $210,000 in prize money for Al-Arabiya Stable.

It was his fourth success under Clements. His maiden win came at his second start in August 2017 for trainer Ricardo Le Grange.