Tiger Roars to slashing win in Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint

Tiger Roar (Simon Kok Wei Hoong) scores an impressive last-to-first win in the Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint.

By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club

The trip was trainer Michael Clements’ only niggling concern for Tiger Roar in the $110,000 Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m), but the son of Wandjina brushed that aside with a thumping win on Sunday.

Clements’ reservation the four-time winner (1200m to 1800m) might need more property to make it a fifth win didn’t look unwarranted in the first half of the race when Tiger Roar was being scrubbed up by Singapore champion apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong to keep up with his stablemate Ablest Ascend (Mohd Zaki).

The pacy Tivic Stable-owned gelding was following the script as the likely leader, but didn’t enjoy the same cheap fractions as at his last-start win under Zaki as well, with Be You (Matthew Kellady) kicking up on the inside and Crystal Warrior (Danny Beasley) flanking him on the other side for a three-way speed battle.

But those sizzling sectionals could only play into the hands of a backmarker, and the best proved to be Tiger Roar, who had by the 500m, taken closer order hugging the rails after tailing off early.

After Ablest Ascend vanished from the race at the top of the straight, Prosperous Return (Vlad Duric), the race favourite and most fancied member from Clements five-pronged attack that also included the threatening Tuesday (Juan Paul van der Merwe) and Starlight (Shafrizal Saleh), was making the best impression at the 250m when he collared Be You.

Tiger Roar still looked a 50/50 proposition with the winning post in their sights, seemingly landlocked behind a fortress of horses.

Kok, who had steered Tiger Roar to his last two wins, first elected for a run towards the middle of the track, but when Strong N Smart (Marc Lerner) went for the same path, he ducked back in, but was again disappointed for a run.

He then weaved his way back to the outside of Strong N Smart where clean air was finally at the receiving end. Once he found daylight, those signature big bounding strides leapt towards a most crushing victory in the first Leg of the three-year-old series made up of only two Legs this year.

It was Clements’ third win in the Sprint, having first won with Kiwi Karma in 2015 before doubling the dose with Countofmontecristo in 2017.

With the Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m) out this season, Clements had all along earmarked the Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1400m on July 18 as Tiger Roar’s real target, but now stands a strong chance of notching a second Sprint-Classic double, four years after Countofmontecristo.

Tellingly, the Singapore champion trainer is not waiting for that race to unfold to make a big call.

“I’ve won the Sprint twice. Kiwi Karma is out and out sprinter, so you can’t really compare her, but Countofmontecristo was more of a miler like Tiger Roar,” said Clements.

“But I rate Tiger Roar as even better than Countofmontecristo, and we saw that today. From last over 1200m on a reasonably fast track, it was a very good effort.

“Against his own age group at level weights, he came in well as he was the only Class 3 winner in the field and was the highest-rated horse (73 points), which gives him an advantage at the weights, but the question mark was the distance.”

Winner at his last two starts, Prosperous Return also earned plaudits for his second place 1 ½ lengths astern as he had not raced for 92 days, and just like Tiger Roar, is expected to fare even better in the Classic.

“Prosperous Return will probably be better suited by the 1400m having had a run after a break,” said Clements.

Trainer Ricardo Le Grange’s Everest (Wong Chin Chuen) ran a creditable third another short head away given he is half-a-year younger being a North American-bred. Tiger Roar ran the 1200m on the Short Course in 1min 9.5secs and is unlikely to be available at the same generous odds of $40 in three weeks’ time.

With Starlight (fifth) and Tuesday (sixth) doing nothing wrong on Sunday, they are also on course to fly the Clements banner alongside Tiger Roar and Prosperous Return, but not Ablest Ascend, who in the end beat one (Crystal Warrior) home.

“Starlight got pushed out wider on the turn. He will benefit from the run and 1400m will be better for him, too,” said Clements.

“Tuesday had some traffic problems, but still ran well. Ablest Ascend is more of a Polytrack horse and he just didn’t have things his way today.”

Apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong and trainer Michael Clements trade fist bumps at the lead-in.

A stakes earner of more than $225,000 for the Falcon Racing No 7 Stable from his ultra-consistent record of five wins and three placings from nine starts, Tiger Roar was incidentally capping another great day at the office for Clements, a hat-trick of wins after Sahabat and Celavi (see previous reports) scored earlier to cement his lead on 44 winners, eight clear of arch-rival Mark Walker who saved his day in the ultimate event, the $70,000 Class 3 race over 1200m with $22 favourite Federation flashing home late to beat stablemate I Am Sacred (Wong) by a nose.

It was not only Clements who added three more sticks to his win-tally on that feature raceday, the third this year after the Group 1 Lion City Cup (April) and Group 1 Kranji Mile (May).

Unlike Clements who pulls off such big hauls on a regular basis thanks to the extensive arsenal of ammunition from his powerhouse yard, Kok was at his first treble for the year.

The Ipoh-born rider used to enjoy similar purple patches at his championship-winning seasons in 2019 and 2020, but has found the going much tougher as a one-kilo claimer this season.

Besides capturing the day’s highlight with Tiger Roar, the earlier wins on Split Second and Absolvido for his master Steven Burridge proved if need be he had not lost an iota of his skills, but his feat was made even more commendable from their respective long odds of $244 and $64, and from the way he had to dig deep into his bag of tricks to snatch victory at the eleventh hour.

“It’s been two months since my last win, which happened to be Tiger Roar on May 1. This is also my first hat-trick in a long time, I did one last year (Sabah Star, Lim’s Bestbreaker and Sayonara on November 15),” said Kok.

“Let’s hope this is a turnaround (of fortunes) for me. I’m not going to win a third champion apprentice jockey title with Hakim (Kamarudding) so far ahead (on 28 winners), but I can definitely do my best to cut back the margin to make it look less bad on me (laughs).

“Tiger Roar is a horse I know well. He was off the bit the entire trip, and at the 500m, I still had to work on him, but when I gave him two cracks, he put it altogether.

“I wasn’t too worried there were no runs in the straight. He’s such a smart horse that he knows what to do, he finds his own way out.

“He wanted to charge to the front horse but there was no room. When I switched back to the inside, I followed the better horse, Vlad’s horse (Prosperous Return), and once he got clear room, he quickened as he normally does – I’ll definitely stick to him for the second Leg.

“Absolvido was also off the bit (in the $50,000 Class 4 race over 1400m), but we were hoping for that as he needs a fast pace. At the 400m, he still had dropped the bit, I kept scrubbing him up and it’s only in the last furlong that he found the line.

“As for Split Second (in the $50,000 Class 4 race over 1800m), he’s an improving three-year-old. I didn’t expect him to be there early in the race.

“He was drawn well in barrier No 7 and he was able to get a nice spot on the rails. The pace was nice.

“Around the turn, Luck Of Master was improving on the outside, and he brought me into the race. He ran on very well and just got there (short head).”

Author: iRace