Horse racing: Top knight slays rivals

Top Knight (in light blue) getting up right on the line to beat front runner Makkem Lad (No. 5) in the $400,000 Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1,400m at Kranji last night.
Top Knight (in light blue) getting up right on the line to beat front runner Makkem Lad (No. 5) in the $400,000 Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1,400m at Kranji last night. ST PHOTO: SALWA SUANDI

$11 favourite gets up in the last stride to take the $400,000 Singapore 3YO Classic over 1,400m

His run in the last start was massive and punters naturally jumped on the Top Knight bandwagon in the $400,000 Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1,400m at Kranji last night.

The writing was already on the wall when the Michael Clements-trained brown Australian-bred stormed home to finish a short head second to Bold Thruster in the first leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge - the Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint over 1,200m on April 5.

The extra 200m in this second leg of the series and the long course were certainly key to Top Knight's success but victory did not come easy. It was only in the last bounce that he won in a thrilling three-way finish.

The photo finish showed that he beat front-runner and $204 outsider Makkem Lad by a head, with a short head to Elite Incredible. The winning time was 1min 22.71sec.

Rated better over the mile, the final leg - the $800,000 Group 1 Singapore Guineas over 1,600m on May 25 - now beckons.

Top Knight provided Clements and jockey Vlad Duric their second Singapore Three-Year-old Classic triumphs. Clements won with Countofmontecristo in 2017 and Duric steered the Bruce Marsh-trained Gingerbread Man to victory in 2011.

Last night's race started with Per Inpower missing the start badly and Top Knight was settled in the rear after jumping from gate 10 in the field of 12.

The Donna Logan-trained Makkem Lad led by half length from Super Ray racing to the 1,000m mark. Then came Lim's Lightning, Pennywise and No Fun No Gain. Top Knight had only two horses behind him, stablemate Siam Blue Vanda and Per Inpower.

Makkem Lad kicked in the straight. Elite Incredible moved up. Durin angled out for an unimpeded run but still had lengths to catch up. But, with him whipping furiously, Top Knight lunged at the line and the rest was history.

Relieved, Clements said: "Look, he has done it the hard way but he was real good at the business-end. He got up to win on the line. I think, over the mile, he will even better."

Duric, who resumed riding last night after spending four weeks away recuperating from a groin surgery, placed a lot of trust on the Falcon Racing No. 7 Stable-owned Top Knight.

"I just had a lot of trust in my horse," he said. "You know, I don't want to say that he is this and that, but I think he has got a little bit over the other three-year-olds, especially as we go up over a little bit more ground."

The two-time Singapore champion also reckoned that the wide draw was to his advantage, given there was going to be plenty of pace in the race.

"I just trusted the lad, keep him out of trouble and there was a bit of going-on in front of me and I was happy with the barrier when he drew out," he said.

"It just gave me that opportunity to stay out of the ruckus and just ride him in his rhythm and then get him to the outside to see if he was better than I expected he was going to be, and he has got that explosive turn of foot."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2019, with the headline 'Top knight slays rivals'. Print Edition | Subscribe