Knight Love wins first-up easily

Newcomer Knight Love giving French jockey Louis-Philippe Beuzelin an armchair ride when winning his debut in Race 2 at Kranji last night.
Newcomer Knight Love giving French jockey Louis-Philippe Beuzelin an armchair ride when winning his debut in Race 2 at Kranji last night.ST PHOTO: SALWA SUANDI

Jockey Beuzelin feels Clements-trained newcomer scores on just 'third gear'

Knight Love, a bargain buy at US$35,000 (S$48,500) as a two-year-old, lived up to his trial-winning form to score on debut last night "in third gear".

Now three years old, the handsome bay gelding was one of two progeny of American sire Shanghai Bobby acquired by trainer Michael Clements for his owners at the US breeze-up sale last year.

The other, the bay/brown filly Shanti, stepped up on her Kranji debut third to win on Feb 1. Shanti cost twice Knight Love's purchase price, US$70,000.

Knight Love's dam is Amazing Littlelady, while Shanti is out of Shadowlan.

Knight Love justified his $15 favouritism with his two impressive trial victories for last night's debut in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden-2 event over 1,200m on turf.

He sweated up behind the barriers, causing a bit of concern. But he certainly did not give his backers any anxious moments with his runaway 31/2-length success.

Drawn widest in the field of 11, Knight Love quickly offset that disadvantage with his natural speed.

He cruised and crossed in to lead easily under jockey Louis-Philippe Beuzelin, opening up a two-length advantage on the shortest route home.

His chief rival, the Stephen Gray-trained and John Powell ridden debut third place-getter Kharisma, closed in to be just a length behind at the halfway stage.

Newcomer Lady Fast - the Desmond Koh-trained filly who finished second behind Knight Love in her trial, was next.

Knight Love straightened up two lengths clear. Kharisma and Lady Fast struggled to keep up. The rest were out of it.

From the 400m mark, Knight Love simply kicked further and further ahead, as if his rivals were standing still. He cantered to the post with 31/2 lengths to spare.

Kharisma beat Lady Fast by a neck for second.

The winner clocked 1min 10.14sec on the Short Course A.

He earned $40,162 in stakes for his owner, Leung Wai Zen, from last night's win.

Beuzelin reckoned Knight Love won on only "third gear".

"He ran like in his trial, you know - jumped out quickly, very professional, quickly into stride - and, once I hit the front easily, honestly, he was on third gear there," said the Frenchman.

"He did everything asked of him and he did it with ease just now. When I asked him to quicken in the straight, he really showed me the turbo. I didn't even pull the whip on him. He just won so easily."

Beuzelin just missed on his next two rides for Clements and then took Race 8 on the Desmond Koh-trained Coming Through in the $70,000 Class 3 race over the Polytrack 1,200m.

In Race 4, he steered Shepherd's Hymn to beat all but the Donna Logan-trained $8 favourite Qiji Diamond (Vlad Duric) by half a length in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden-1 event over 1,200m on turf.

In Race 6, he was a tad unlucky on Iron Ruler, who was trapped wide early and just lost by a nose to the Shane Baertschiger-trained $77 outsider Mr Exchequer (John Powell) in the $50,000 Class 4 race over 1,600m on turf.

Clements was bullish on Knight Love's debut last night.

"Look, his preparation coming into today's race was great. He arrived late last year but was a bit on the weak side, so we gave him a break," said the in-form trainer.

"He came back a lot stronger. Great trial coming into this race, shown us a couple of good gallops, a lot of speed and, yeah, he pretty much dictated the race."

In the last two years, Clements has added the US as another market for his horses.

"Look, we've been looking at other markets. I've been going to the US breeze-up sales for the last two years," he said.

"The first year, I got three or four and all of them, except one, have won - the other one placed.

"Last year, I went and got these two by Shanghai Bobby. Shanti was the first one, she won a couple of weeks back and this guy won first-up. So, yeah, looking for alternate markets for the breeze-up horses for us here in Singapore.

"It definitely seems to suit owners getting breeze-up horses, and yeah, so far going so good."

Clements felt Knight Love was a bargain buy at US$35,000.

"He was the horse that just caught my eye there, you know. It does get a bit tough in the US. The market is a bit stronger, compared to Australia and Australia and, of course, the comparison to the US dollars makes it more expensive as well.

"So you've got to be a little careful, otherwise you can get carried away with the prices. But, yeah, he was a good buy at US$35,000."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2020, with the headline 'Knight Love wins first-up easily'. Print Edition | Subscribe