Via Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Singapore Guineas winner Top Knight showed he had lost none of his three-year-old brilliance following a pulsating comeback win in the $85,000 Tuxedo Moon 2011 Stakes, a Class 2 race over 1400m on Sunday.
The ultra-smart son of Zoustar has not been seen at the races since he lived up to his favourite tag in the Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m), the third and final Leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge in May. The Thai-owned galloper also claimed the second Leg, the Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic (1400m) and ran second to Bold Thruster in the first Leg, the Group 3 JBBA Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m).
There is always a query how a horse will measure up once tested against older/better cattle, but Top Knight – who became the new favourite after stablemate Eye Guy was scratched at the barriers – left no doubt he was a horse who can escalate to bigger and better things following that impressive first-up win against more seasoned opposition.
Partnered in a race for the first time by Daniel Moor, Top Knight was dropped out in his usual rearward spot before being stoked up for his run upon cornering.
The question mark whether he could muster the same acceleration at this higher echelon was answered in no uncertain terms.
After leading the race at a good clip, Nepean (Matthew Kellady) fleetingly looked out of reach when he gamely found another gear in the home straight, but soon had his job cut out when Top Knight came with his trademark relentless gallop on the outside.
Clements’ naturally-gifted galloper went straight on by, pushing clear with two lengths to spare from Nepean on the line, with third place going to Magic Wand (Wong Chin Chuen) another length away. The winning time was 1min 21.89secs for the 1400m on the Long Course.
While disappointed the well-supported Eye Guy did not get a chance to show his mettle on Sunday, Clements would feel more than compensated by the devastating manner Top Knight returned from his three-month layoff.
“Top Knight had a good break after a hard three-year-old campaign in which he did very well,” said the Zimbabwean-born trainer.
“We put him out and he’s had a good prep, but we weren’t sure if he could win or not. There was a concern about his race fitness, but he found the line very well.
“We’ll see how he comes through even if it was a soft win in the end. He just turned four and obviously, there’s still a bit of time ahead of the Triple Crown series, but we will definitely target the Raffles Cup, the QEII Cup and the Gold Cup for him.”
The Singapore Triple Crown series kicks off with the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1600m) on September 22 followed by the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m) on October 20 before culminating with the Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) on November 10.
Moor said the hard pace played into their hands from a long way out.
“He had a bit on them. There was a good speed and he was in a good spot,” said the Australian lightweight jockey.
“They went hard and I went back on him. I just had to keep him balanced up, and trusted my horse will do the rest.
“They went quick early and I was always confident then. He is a super progressive genuine horse who can relax so well and has a great turn of foot.”
With a record of seven wins from 10 starts, padded up by one second and one third, Top Knight has now amassed around $880,000 in stakes earnings for the Falcon Racing No 7 Stable.