By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Assistant-trainer Michael White made a big call on impressive debut winner Starlight – and he seemed confident of the facts he put forward to back up his bold claims.
“He would be the most promising horse I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said the Australian horseman who joined newly-crowned Singapore champion trainer Michael Clements in 2015.
“It’s the first time I’ve been nervous about a horse. I was worried he might even jump at the giant screen, he’s that kind of horse, mentally he’s very timid, he sees dead people!
“He’s super talented, but he’s not quite there yet. He was not fully screwed down today, I would say he was only 70% fit.
“Being by a Zabeel mare, he will probably get more ground. The only one who doesn’t know how good he is is him.
“But it’s great he’s won first-up. I’m very happy for his owner Paul (PSM Racing Stable) who didn’t have an easy year, that’ll be a nice tonic for him.
“He has about four to five horses with us and already had a winner in Shanti before this one.”
The US-bred filly has won once from four starts in the relatively new blue and white chevrons silks, but has struggled at Class 4 level of late.
From the way Starlight despatched his 11 rivals in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1200m on Sunday, aided greatly by a sizzlingly quick getaway from his wide alley, the PSM Racing Stable may well have a lot more fun with the Headwater three-year-old.
Clements paid A$210,000 for the then two-year-old at the Inglis Ready 2 Race Sale last year. Backed down to $8 favouritism, mainly on the strength of his two winning barrier trials, Starlight was never in doubt once he settled on the steel after coming across from his barrier No 12.
Stablemate Zahau (Vlad Duric) emerged from the pack to take second place just under three lengths away with newcomer Lim’s Betterready (Chin Chee Seng) third another three-quarter length away. The winning time was 1min 11.65secs for the 1200m on Polytrack.
The armchair win also handed back-from-suspension jockey Louis-Philippe Beuzelin a winning comeback, which got even better when he combined again with Clements for a running double aboard Imperium ($17) in the next race, the $50,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over 1400m.
The Barbadian-raised Frenchman was full of praise of Starlight, a horse he had spent plenty of time with in his early schooling.
“We were a bit worried he might look around and jump shadows, but he was very professional,” he said.
“He was very quick out of the gates, I was able to give him a breather midrace and he accelerated beautifully. It was a very easy win.
“He’ll be a nice horse for me next year.”