Handy stayer Arhat takes another step on the road to Gold this Sunday as he lines up in the $100,000 Open Benchmark 97 race over 2000m.
Already a two-time winner over 2000m around this time last year, the Iffraaj five-year-old was in the mix for last year’s Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) for a while.
But his ratings of 67 points then fell four points shy of the cut-off mark. He ran in the consolation stakes, the Helping Hand Stakes, Kranji Stakes C race over the same trip, but was well beaten, in a way sending the signal those gilt-edged dreams were not meant to be.
But trainer Michael Clements is having another roll of the dice now that the horse is one year older. His rating has since to the required mark of 71.
After a few warm-up runs this prep, Arhat took out a Class 3 race over 1700m in June. He was then freshened up for a couple of months before he produced an eye-catching fourth at his last start in a Class 3 race over 1800m on August 4.
“Arhat is coming to form at the right time. He ran on very well at his last start first-up from a short break,” said Clements.
“This will be a good prep run towards the Gold Cup. It’s a rise in class to a BM97 race but the field is not overly strong.
“He is well in at the weights at 50kgs compared to 57kgs at his last run. I expect a good run from him.”
Assistant-trainer Michael White said Arhat was a horse who needed to have his runs well spread out to be at his best.
“It’s not by design that we space his runs. He only has two to three runs and then he needs a break,” said the Australian horseman.
“We are trying to see if he can be a Gold Cup horse or not. We’ll see if he can handle it this time.”
White said Arhat, who races for the same connections as the two-Leg winner of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge and stablemate Alibi, did not have things his way at his last outing.
“He was unlucky at his last start. It was a small field and he will get the same small field on Sunday,” he said.
“It’s a similar type of race as well. He is meeting three of the horses in that race – the winner Certainly, Makanani and Darshini, whom he both beat.
“The only difference is they all have a pull in weights on the winner this time.”
Arhat will be ridden by Alan Munro and will jump from barrier No 2.
– Singapore Turf Club