By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
he American market has further enhanced its appeal with trainer Michael Clements after debutant Knight Love bolted in on Friday night.
Clements has been testing out US stock of late, with some very encouraging results, but his latest foray last year was to be his most successful shopping trip thus far.
He then bought two two-year-olds by Shanghai Bobby, a bit of a punt given the relatively new US sire is uncharted territory at Kranji, even if on his home turf, he is better remembered as the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (1700m) and American champion two-year-old colt that same year.
One year on, the ROI can be translated as 66% percentage-wise. The first one to step out was Shanti, a nice little filly who franked her encouraging debut third with a game win second-up on February 1.
Two weeks later, it was Knight Love’s turn to go through his local baptism of fire, and the least that can be said is the goosebumps factor would conservatively be twice as much.
Overcoming a wide gate in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden-2 race over 1200m, Knight Love, who was backed down to $15 favouritism, reproduced the early gate speed shown in his two winning barrier trials by securing the steel without much ado.
The race was as good as over from thereon in, as his partner Louis-Philippe Beuzelin would testify later. Second-elect Kharisma (John Powell) nipped at his heels, but was eventually left chasing shadows in the home straight when Beuzelin cut the ribbons.
Three and a half lengths separated Knight Love from Kharisma as he strolled over the line, with Lady Fast (Ruan Maia) running on late for third another neck away. The winning time was 1min 10.14secs for the 1200m on the Short Course.
There is every chance Clements – and quite possibly, a few impressed trainers/owners in the stand – might book his air ticket to the States soon, even if the Zimbabwean-born handler wished the economics of the whole venture was more viable.
“The US is a good alternative market. I’ve been heading there for the breeze-ups in the last two years now,” said Clements.
“The year before, I bought four, two won, Magnum Force and Siam MP while the other two were placed. I got two by Shanghai Bobby last year, they caught my eye, and both have won – so far so good.
“Knight Love was a bargain at US$35,000, but the US is, however, a tougher market compared to Australia and New Zealand because of the stronger conversion rate.
“The preparation for Knight Love coming into that race was great. He came early last year but as he was on the weak side, we gave him a break.
“He came back stronger and produced good gallops, showed lots of speed. Tonight, he dictated the race and was too good.”
Beuzelin, who has vowed to stay away from the inquiry room after being sidelined by a spate of suspensions for careless riding from the end of last year, certainly wished all rides were that straightforward.
“He jumped out quick and was very professional. He hit the front early and the race was as good as over,” said the French rider.
“This horse has done everything we asked of him. When I asked him to quicken, he showed a great turn of foot, I didn’t even have to show him the whip.”