By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Top sprinter Bold Thruster’s love affair with Group 3 races at Kranji kept going on Saturday after he extended the record to five in the $175,000 Silver Bowl (1400m).
The singular collection began with the Saas Fee Stakes (1200m) in 2018 before he snared the JBBA Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m) and Rocket Man Sprint (1200m) in 2019, followed by the Fortune Bowl (1400m) last month.
With assistant-trainer Michael White announcing post-race that the son of Turffontein would most likely skip the last two Legs of the Singapore Four-Year Challenge (of which the Silver Bowl is the first Leg since last year), the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) on March 20 and the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) on April 18, any chance of a silverware upgrade would have to wait for another day.
Which will most probably be May 23 when the Holy Grail of sprints is staged, the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m), confirmed by White as Bold Thruster’s next target.
The Australian horseman was doing the honours for trainer Michael Clements who was in Melbourne to attend the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale, and in the process, had unfortunately missed not only Bold Thruster’s feature success, but a rare stable trifecta in a big race.
The yard’s first pick Top Knight (Vlad Duric) and Siam Blue Vanda (Daniel Moor) filled the two minor placings while a fourth runner, Real Success (Simon Kok Wei Hoong) finished seventh, less than five lengths astern.
Top Knight clearly had his work cut out when he was turned loose by Duric entering the homestretch, giving his dashing stablemate a start of about six lengths. Under French jockey Louis-Philippe Beuzelin’s guidance for the first time, Bold Thruster ($12) was clearly not in a mood to wait for him.
The gap narrowed noticeably inside the last 100m, though. Bold Thruster was feeling the side-effects of his longer-than-expected wide passage to take the lead down the back, and Top Knight was finally in full flight after taking a month of Sundays to go through his gears.
But for the third time in a row, Top Knight had to play second fiddle, arriving half-a-length too late while Siam Blue Vanda landed from the clouds for the perfect Clements podium finish another 1 ½ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 21.44secs for the 1400m on the Short Course.
“It’s a great result, we had the right horses on paper, but we couldn’t really tell how the race would pan out as it depended a lot on how Bold Thruster jumps,” said White.
“In the end, he had a reasonably soft lead and he went all the way. It was never the plan to go to the other Legs with Bold Thruster, it’s hard to ignore them after today’s win, but I think we will go for the Lion City Cup instead.”
Beuzelin was bringing up his second ‘black type’ win at Kranji after Clements supplied him with his first aboard Countofmontecristo in the Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) on February 15.
The Barbadian-raised and English-trained jockey has not taken long to become a major cog in the wheel of the powerful Clements operation.
“Louis loves working our horses every day. He gives good feedback, and we enjoy working with him,” said White.
“He has a natural feel for the horses, even if he’s still learning about them.”
From the way Beuzelin steered Bold Thruster home with such great confidence on Saturday, it would seem that he is a fast learner, even if he did admit to some jittery moments a few seconds into the race.
“I’ve worked on Bold Thruster every morning to size him up. I wanted to get him to relax better and that’s how I understood why he was reacting a certain way,” said Beuzelin.
“I just had to channel his energy into a more constructive manner. Today, he jumped out nicely, but I was a bit worried when the pace was quicker than I anticipated.
“I was trapped three to four deep and a bit in no man’s land. But luckily, I was able to get the fence and he was breathing very well from that point onwards.
“I took my time with him, but once I gave him a squeeze, he pinched a few lengths on the rest and kept hitting the line strongly all the way to the winning post.”
Duric looked bitterly disappointed after he dismounted from Top Knight in the runner-up box for the third consecutive time. Like most racing pundits, seven furlongs was always seen as the Zoustar four-year-old’s only chink in the armour, but the Kranji ace still went in hoping he could get the thicker end of the prizemoney with an ounce of luck.
“He ran enormous. The winner is also a good horse, and my bloke did a great job to run him down to half-a-length,” said the three-time Singapore champion jockey who knows Bold Thruster well for having steered him to his last two wins, including the Fortune Bowl.
“But I had to get working on him early today. They were scooting along, and he was struggling to keep up.
“He is screaming for the mile. He’ll be hard to beat in the other two Legs.”
Another hoop who was looking forward to the last two Legs was Patrick Moloney, the first-time partner of the Shane Baertschiger-trained Aramaayo. The son of Poet’s Voice plugged away to fifth place around three and a half lengths off Bold Thruster.
“That was a great run. He is looking for more ground,” said the Australian rider.
Bold Thruster is now the proud holder of a racing record that reads nine wins, three seconds and one third from 16 starts for prizemoney that has tipped over the $800,000 mark for the Tivic Stable.