KS Tan worried weight will stop Clarton
New trainer Tan Kah Soon had to bite the bullet when Sunday’s Benchmark 83 race over the mile was changed to a Kranji Stakes C race over 1400m.
The Malaysian handler had long targeted the BM83 race for Clarton Super, the highest-rated (77) galloper in his small string of 16 horses, and understandably, the apple of his eyes.
But the moment David Hill’s former assistant-trainer was told about the change to the programme, his heart sank.
Clarton Super (Azhar Ismail) at his last win on June 18, picture Singapore Turf Club
“We already missed the Racing Guide Classic (October 8) because he was balloted out,” said Tan who officially launched on September 1, saddled his first runner four weeks later to win his first race another fortnight later with General Conatus (October 15).
“We then saw that Benchmark 83 race which would have been perfect for him but it was cancelled. We’ve been trying to avoid a Kranji Stakes C race for him because of the handicap he would get.
“The 59.5kgs he got might kill him, just like two starts back when he ran fifth to Mighty Kenny with a similar weight.
“But I didn’t have any other choice. These are the cards we are dealt with and we just have to take it on the chin and try our luck.
“It’s not ideal as it’s hard to keep a horse ticking over for eight weeks, but we’ll see how the cards fall on Sunday.”
The Swift Alliance five-year-old last raced – for the last time for his previous handler Hill - in a Benchmark 83 race where he carried 54.5kgs for Malaysian veteran jockey Azhar Ismail on September 8, storming home late for second to Aramco.
“Clarton Super was unlucky not to have won. He was wide and ran on late, but that’s racing,” said Tan whose father is former Penang trainer Dr Tan Swee Hock.
“He’s a very under-utilised horse. I try and space his runs between three to four weeks, and he runs well every time we do that.
“He seems to be fine. Amirul (Ismadi) worked him in an easy gallop this morning, and he was pleased with him.
“We are putting Amirul on to get some weight relief, take two kilos off his back. Azhar is his uncle and I’ll leave it between uncle and nephew if it doesn’t work out!”
Tan is under no illusions it is not the hefty load which will be Clarton Super’s only hurdle.
“He’s running against some very good horses like Iron Man and Gold Crown, both last-start winners. That Bao Shan Magic is also good; they are all seasoned horses,” said Tan.
“This race on Sunday will give me a better idea where he is at. I would like to step him up in distance after that.
“Azhar is convinced he can stay. He used to pull a lot, but he has settled so well now that we think he can go over further. The way he runs on also tells us he will stay.
“Besides, he is by Swift Alliance who is by Australian Derby (2400m) winner Don Eduardo. His second dam has also won up to 1900m.
“And at his only run in Australia when he ran third in a Maiden at Wyong, the horse who ran fourth, Eagle Way, went on to win the Queensland Derby over 2400m.
“But we’ll take it one race at a time and see how he goes.”
Always ridden by Azhar at his seven Kranji starts, Clarton Super has given a glimpse of his talent with three wins between 1100m and 1200m (the latter on turf) and two seconds for the Pentagon Stable.