In-form trainer Michael Clements was back in the winner’s circle on Friday after Leon took out the $75,000 Spanish Bay 2015 Stakes, a Restricted Maiden race over 1400m.
Fresh from his training double (Tannhauser and Knight Chen Bay) of last week’s, the Zimbabwean-born handler seems to be going through a resurgence of sorts – new hairdo doing its bit no doubt, would be the joke around Kranji – and was notching his 13th success for the season.
Clements later saddles one of the Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic favourites in Countofmontecristo, but was given a solid chance of getting that Good Friday meeting off to a good note with the two leading picks he had in that race – Khudawand ($18) and Leon ($21).
Leon (Michael Rodd) sprints away to his first win on Friday, picture Singapore Turf Club
If punters were trying to split the pair, they however, got it wrong in the end. It was the slightly less-fancied half who got the money courtesy of a patient ride from first-time partner Michael Rodd.
The punters were not the only ones to have erred. Rodd’s colleague Vlad Duric pulled the wrong rein. The current leading hoop has been the regular partner for both Clements horses, but went with Khudawand.
The Myboycharlie three-year-old did look like he would prove Duric right when he left the rear to begin a looping run from the 800m, but he eventually petered out to finish sixth, just under six lengths off his stablemate Leon, who also came from a fair way back, but he enjoyed a fairly softer run, and accelerated at the right time to get the upperhand of longshot Military Might (John Sundradas).
Clements said that either way he was happy with the result, though he does feel that the drop in distance may not have suited Khudawand.
“Both horses had been running well, but I think Khudawand is looking for further,” he said.
“There was nothing on the programme, and that’s why I dropped him back from 1600m to 1400m.
“As for Leon, he has been running up to 1200m and was looking for the 1400m. He’s a horse on the way up and he may also be looking for more ground, too.”
The Domesday three-year-old’s win may have looked rather comfortable inside the last 200m, but Rodd said that the finishing burst was more honest than spectacular.
“I thought he would ping when he saw daylight, but he was more one-paced,” said Rodd, who with that win has chipped away at Duric’s lead down to three winners (24 winners versus 21).
“He sprinted quite well and ran them down. He was still good and strong to the line
“The horse has been racing really well, and I think he will be better over the mile.”
Raced by the MC Racing Stable, Leon was shedding his maiden status at his fourth start, with two seconds as his best previous results. Friday’s win has taken his stakes earnings close to the $75,000 mark.