Michael Lee – STC
Favourite Big Hearted had to survive an objection before his name could be semaphored as the winner of the first Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series on Sunday.
The even-money favourite fell in by a short head from Rocket Star (Callan Murray) in the $75,000 Inglis Ready2Race Sale Stakes (1000m), but trainer Michael Clements, jockey Vlad Duric and the Thai owners from the Falcon Racing No 7 Stable had to keep the champagne on ice when the “objection” sign flashed.
After viewing the head-on at the 400m, Murray decided to lodge a protest, alleging interference when a full-of-momentum Big Hearted came veering in at the 400m.
With the naked eye, Rocket Star could be seen hampered and having to switch across heels to the outside to regain clear galloping room. Upfront, Big Hearted had sling shot off a long-searching run out five to six wide to a two-length lead from Rocket Star, who once rebalanced by Murray, was gathering him in with every stride, but the winning post arrived a fraction too soon.
Charming Diamond (Matthew Kellady) ran third another 1 ¾ lengths away. The winning time was 59.21 seconds for the 1000m dash on the all-weather.
Big Hearted was the only juvenile with race experience in the 12-horse field. The son of Hallowed Crown’s first win in Restricted Maiden company on April 26 was a bit of a carbon copy of Sunday’s – hanging off the turns, an inclination to lug in in the home straight, but in the end, too good for his rivals.
That shortcoming could have brought his undoing in the 1000m Leg of the annual two-year-old challenge, but Clements said the alleged interference copped by Rocket Star actually hailed from another horse on the inside, not his ward.
“My horse has already gone past him when he got checked. It came from the horse on the inside (Try Mak Mak),” said Clements.
“In saying this, it was warranted for Big Hearted to feel the pinch in the end as he had a hard race all around. Vlad did the right thing to ride him through the turns instead of taking a hold of him.
“He made good ground around horses, and he’s likely to be even better in the second Leg over 1100m.”
The second Leg is the $75,000 Thoroughbred Breeders Australia Centenary Stakes over 1100m on Polytrack on June 9, but with the two wins (from two starts), Clements’ undefeated two-year-old will be even worse off at the weights.
“Hopefully, he gets a barrier, but he will get another two kilos after today’s win, meaning he will give the others four kilos, including Rocket Star, he beat by only a short head today,” said the Zimbabwean-born conditioner.
“He’s got a lot of ability and has improved off his first run, and hopefully, he improves off that second run, too.”
Duric, who was at his first sit on Big Hearted in a race (he missed out at the debut win as he was sidelined after surgery and he couldn’t have made the 50kgs weight, anyway), said the trick to overcoming Big Hearted’s “rails shyness” is to work overtime on him right through the run.
“It was a massive effort considering he was hanging out the whole way through. I rode him forward and the long run helped him,” said the leading Australian jockey.
“He got a bit tired late, but he’s got a real win to win. He will be even better over 1200m.”
Big Hearted has already picked up more than $80,000 in prizemoney from his two wins for the Falcon Racing No 7 Stable.
The fifth and final Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series is the Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) on July 19