Clarton Super picks his way in search of next Trophy

A foot setback saw Clarton Super step out for his much-awaited barrier trial one week later than scheduled, but the pleasing hit-out on Tuesday left no doubts that the dual-Group winner had come through the slight hiccup without a hitch.

Trainer Tan Kah Soon said such mishaps might be trivial, but they are not to be trifled with. He added that he’d be lying if he said he had not lost sleep because of that.

After all, the Swift Alliance five-year-old has flung Tan into the spotlight twice over in only seven months of training. 

Clarton Super chills after a refreshing hose-down from his groom Ahmad Salleh following his barrier 
trial on Tuesday, picture Singapore Turf Club

Clarton Super won the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1400m) for the Penang-born trainer barely two months after he received his trainer’s licence at Kranji last year. Three months later in February, the honest gelding had slipped under the radar despite his Barker success, but the $64 shot again delivered silverware in the Group 3 Fortune Bowl (1400m).

Clarton Super has not raced since then, with Tan having no other choice but to rely on barrier trials to keep the fitness levels of his sparingly-raced galloper on the up.

If he misses one, it’s a worry, especially this time around when his next comeback race is the $500,000 Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) next Friday week.

“I couldn’t find a race for him after the Fortune Bowl. I just have to keep him ticking over, that’s all we can do,” said the former Godolphin assistant-trainer to champion trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

“He runs well fresh, anyway, and I was happy with his trial yesterday morning. He had a good blow, and Azhar (Ismail) was happy with him, too.

“He was meant to have his trial last week, but he had a minor foot issue. Little things like that give you sleepless nights, and by precaution, I pulled him out as I didn’t want to take any risk.

“Looking at him, he’s fine now. He’s a very laid-back individual who doesn’t give a toss what’s going on, he just goes about his business without a care in the world.

“I’m also hoping for rain as he does enjoy a bit of cut in the ground.”

Azhar said Clarton Super was not 100% fit after the trial, but would surely come on from the workout.

“He had a sore foot last week, but he’s over that. He was striding well and his action was good,” said the Malaysian jockey who has partnered Clarton Super at all his 10 starts, bar one unplaced start when Clarton Super was ridden by his nephew Amirul Ismadi.

“He ran on quite well on the outside, but on the way back, he was blowing a little, which tells me he needed the trial today.

“He will probably have another gallop next week before the Chairman’s Trophy.”

Tan said there may be an even bigger catch for the Pentagon Stable-owned galloper after the Chairman’s Trophy, the new Invitational $1.5 million Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) on May 26.

The revamped race did get a mention at the post-race Fortune Bowl interview, but it slots in even better now with the new timing. Originally scheduled for May 20, the Kranji Mile has been pushed back to May 26, and to be run alongside the $1 million Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) and the $1 million Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m).

“We did have the Kranji Mile in mind for him. After all it’s a $1.5 million race,” said Tan.

“But then they announced a few days later it was moved to May 26, four weeks in between runs. That will suit him better than three weeks.

“At least, we have the Kranji Mile to look forward to. What happens after that is a big question mark.”

Clarton Super’s Singaporean owner Tang Kim Chwee was on hand to watch his pride and joy at Tuesday’s barrier trial. He had double the reason to be present as it was also an opportunity to see one of his latest purchases, Clarton Treasure being put through his paces in the Official Race Trial.

Also ridden by Azhar, but trained by Young Keah Yong, the unraced Guillotine three-year-old finished a head-second to Steven Burridge’s Absolvido (Simon Kok Wei Hoong).

“Mr Tang has that other horse who trialled (Clarton Treasure) with KY Young, two more with Mark Walker (Clarton Star and Clarton Palace) and one new horse, Clarton Fortune, with me,” said Tan.

“As you can see, he likes to call his horses ‘Clarton’. I’m not sure what it means, but he actually had another Clarton Super who raced in Malaysia with my dad (Dr Tan Swee Hock) around 2007-2008.

“He wasn’t a bad horse, I think he won five races, and Mr Tang liked him so much that he renamed the one I have as Clarton Super.”