By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Michael Clements was pleased with Lion City Cup hopeful Muraahib’s first Kranji barrier trial under his banner on Tuesday – and he was not alone.
The Reset six-year-old just joined the Singapore champion trainer’s yard after a short stint with trainer Donna Logan. The Kiwi handler herself took over his training when new owner, young healthcare entrepreneur Kuldeep Singh Rajput bought the Oscar Racing Stable-owned gelding from the horse dispersal sale of trainer Lee Freedman when he returned to Australia last month.
The ink on the transfer papers had barely dried that a high-pressure assignment has already been locked away, the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) in two weeks’ time on April 24.
Clements said the former three-time winner (all with Freedman) did not need substantial conditioning as he came over fit as a fiddle, albeit at the pointy end of a tapering form.
He last contested a Kranji Stakes A race over 1600m on March 20, beating one home.
With Rajput and his entourage at the barrier trials on Tuesday morning, Muraahib, however, turned the style back on with a forward display from barrier to box.
As the gates crashed back, he sprang out like a scalded cat to land one length clear in front before coming back underneath Shafrizal Saleh trailing in second place behind Fame Star (Troy See). He then went through his gears into the home straight to hit the front before being eased down into second place, beaten less than one length by a much harder-ridden 2020 New Year Cup winner Nowyousee (Noh Senari).
Nods of appreciation could be seen all round as Muraahib returned to the dismounting yard. The dynamic display could not have come at a better time ahead of his grand final.
“That was Muraahib’s first trial for us. He showed good early speed, and relaxed quite nicely upfront,” said Clements.
“He extended well once Shafrizal gave him his head. He hasn’t raced for a while, so he had a bit of a blow.
“Shafrizal rode him this morning because Harry (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) was on another horse (Minister), but the owner and I have booked Harry for his races as he’s ridden the horse before and won on him (once) as well.”
Obviously just warming up the saddle on Muraahib, Shafrizal was nonetheless suitably impressed throughout the 59.15 seconds of the ad hoc spin.
“This horse seems to be getting better. He’s improving,” said Clements’ former apprentice jockey.
“He’s a big horse with big strides. It was a nice trial, he gave me an easy ride right through.”
The entries for the Lion City Cup closed on Tuesday with Muraahib (89 points) sixth in the order of entries and Grand Koonta on top on 103 points. James Peters’ grey also trialled with Muraahib finishing fifth under Vlad Duric.
Clements has also entered his stable star Top Knight, Celavi and Tuesday, the latter two both racing this Sunday in the $70,000 Class 3 race over 1100m.
Busy days are therefore in the pipeline for the premiership winner, not only in terms of his runners on the track, but also newcomers fresh off yearling sales rings in Australia and New Zealand, including a quartet for Rajput’s Samurai Stout Racing Stable.
“Kuldeep has bought four yearlings from Australia and New Zealand through my bloodstock agent Bevan Smith,” said Clements.
“I helped them choose as well. They are the right types for our track.
“Breeze-ups are coming up soon, so there could be more new horses on the way for Kuldeep.”