Clements hopes Tannhauser can live up to hype

Kranji has been abuzz about Michael Clements’ exciting new find Tannhauser, some quarters even pitching him as the “next Spalato”, but the Zimbabwean-born trainer was not jumping on that bandwagon just yet.

No doubt, he was toying with the idea of aiming the Tavistock three-year-old towards the last leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge, the Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m) on May 14, but he would prefer to see how he went this Friday in the more modest $75,000 Novice race over 1200m first.

Should the Jubilant Racing Stable-owned gelding score again, not necessarily obliterating his rivals the way he did at his last start in Restricted Maiden company on April 7, it is odds-on he will be joining his already decorated stablemate Countofmontecristo, winner of the first two Legs over 1200m and 1400m and one Leg away from the clean sweep, in the Guineas.

Tannhauser (Vlad Duric) treats his rivals with contempt at his second start, picture Singapore Turf Club

“He has come through very well as expected,” said Clements.

“He is running in the Novice race over 1200m. That should be an ideal run that will give us a better idea of his potential going into the Guineas.

“It’s nowhere near an ideal prep for such a race, and it will depend on how he goes on Friday.

“What I really liked about his win the other day was how he settled in the running and was not a crazy tearaway.

“He still quickened up very well, even if he was not sure of himself in the concluding stages. Vlad just went hands and heels and only gave him a few reminders to wake him up in the last 100m.

“He ran the class record that day, which is pretty amazing for a horse winning his maiden race. He could have broken the course record if Vlad had not eased on him.

“It’s true the Polytrack was riding very well on that day as Good News later went on to equal the course record (1min 4.27secs), but it was still a great performance from Tannhauser.”

The dominant win has brought echoes of a similar performance by a horse who went on to stamp himself as a champion - Spalato. At his debut in an Initiation race, the John O’Hara-trained galloper spanked his rivals by just under 10 lengths.

Forever the measured man, Clements was not prepared to draw any parallel at this stage.

“He’s obviously a pretty smart horse, but how far he will go time will tell,” said Clements.

“He’s come on from that run but it would be hard to expect him to reproduce that last win.”

Taking on Stephen Gray’s debut winner Bear Witness and Ricardo Le Grange’s newcomer and trial winner Situation, Tannhauser has drawn the outermost alley in 11, which is only one worse than the gate he was allotted at his last outing. Duric will again jump on, a decision which was not hard to make for the leading jockey this time.

It has been well documented the Australian jockey surprisingly picked Wimbledon over Clements’ Alibi in last Sunday’s Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m). Alibi ran second to the winner Lim’s Cruiser while Wimbledon ran seventh.

Clements said he had moved on from the episode, with the focus now switched to his upcoming Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge mission leading up to the Emirates Singapore Derby (2000m) in July.

“Vlad digs his own grave sometimes - not just with Alibi, but also the other day when he picked Khudawand over Leon, and he got it wrong again,” said Clements with a chuckle.

“But that’s racing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

“I was very happy with Alibi’s run in the Lion City Cup. We were lucky to get Glen Boss on him and he rode him very well.

“The horse got badly crowded at the start and got further back than we wanted. Lim’s Cruiser, on the other hand, had an easier run.

“I would say Alibi’s closing sectionals were better than Lim’s Cruiser, but because of what happened at the start, he was left with too much to do.

“Alibi has really improved this prep. I will now get him ready for the 4YO series.”