Trainer Michael Clements’ team of six is not only making up the numbers in the two feature races on Sunday.
The Zimbabwean-born conditioner will saddle two runners in the $400,000 Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) and four runners in the $110,000 Group 3 Singapore Golden Horseshoe (1200m).
Cavalry, in particular, has thrown some intrigue into the third Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge after sensationally winning at his Kranji debut in a Class 3 race (1400m) less than two weeks ago.
The son of Tavistock arrived with big wraps on both breeding and his race records in Australia and New Zealand, where he won three times over 1830m, 2200m and 2000m respectively.
It looked like he had more than acclimatised to life in Singapore after that first win, so Cavalry can be a serious threat to the top two fancies – Golden Monkey and Super Salute – over the 1800m trip of the Singapore Derby.
Argentinian mare Istataba will also run in the 11-horse field. Although she was slightly disappointing in the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) after running sixth behind Golden Monkey, the daughter of Treasure Beach has won over 2000m in a Class 4 race on November 13 last year, so the Derby distance had always been in her wheelhouse.
Clements – who won the iconic race with Top Knight in 2020 – thought that he could add a second Derby trophy to his cabinet on Sunday.
“I’m very happy with how things are going given the circumstances,” said the 2020 Singapore champion trainer.
“As we discussed before Cavalry’s debut run, it was not the ideal Derby preparation for him as it’s only two weeks between runs, but he got the job done over 1400m and he will improve again over 1800m.
“He came through the run very well. We’ve given him two easy gallops going into the Derby and he stretched out nicely. He’s bright and definitely come on since his win.
“We know he gets the trip, and he also gets (jockey) Vlad (Duric), who won this race for me a few years back.
“He (Duric) loves the big races and I will leave it to him to assess on how the race would be run. Ideally, there is pace on early and Vlad can use Cavalry’s staying prowess to his advantage.
“And don’t discount the mare (Istataba). She wasn’t in the best position early in the Stewards’ Cup and had traffic in the straight, so I’m happy to ignore that run.
“She has won over 2000m, so the Derby distance is ideal. (Jockey) Simon (Kok Wei Hoong) stays on and I think we will see her best on Sunday.”
Earlier on the card, Clements will have four two-year-olds – Bakeel, Greatham Boy, June and Pacific Commander – in the second feature race of the day and the quartet will have admirers in this seemingly wide-open edition of the only Group race opened to juveniles on the calendar.
Bakeel was impressive after he won on debut in a Restricted Maiden race over 1200m on July 2 against his own age group and the son of Sioux Nation will also have four-time Singapore champion jockey Manoel Nunes on board second-up, but Clements suggested that Greatham Boy – who showed an explosive turn of foot to win on debut in a Restricted Maiden race (1100m) on June 17 – could be his best chance.
“These two-old-races are hard to line up, but I thought that over six furlongs, Greatham Boy is my best (chance),” said Clements of the son of Stratosphere.
“He has the speed that made us think that 1200m would be his best trip and he won very well on debut; even if it was on the Polytrack.
“(Jockey) Daniel (Moor) is in good form and from his gate (seven), he will figure prominently early with his speed.
“In saying that, Bakeel is classy and can win, but he will be better over 1400m or the mile. His class will carry him through this race but on paper, the sprinter (Greatham Boy) gets the nod – just!
“Pacific Commander (x Written By) ran second to Bakeel on debut but he had excuses with the traffic, so he has to be respected. I’ve put our stable apprentice (jockey) Ibrahim (Mamat) on as he will suit and he deserves a good ride in a big race.
“Vlad will ride June, who made up great ground last week. While it’s a quick back-up, the horse has shown ability both in Australia and here, so don’t discount him either.
“It’s a big field with many inexperienced horses, so it may be a case of whoever gets the best run wins.”
– Singapore Turf Club