This Saturday’s $200,000 Group 3 Fortune Bowl was probably not what trainer Tan Kah Soon had in mind as his first choice for Clarton Super’s comeback race, but he’s in it now, and whether he wins or not, it will at least tell him how good he is.
The first full-season handler does not run a big yard, and it stands to reason his first ‘black type’ winner at only his third career win is the apple of his eye. Clarton Super did surprise a few when he won the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1400m) on November 10.
The former Godolphin assistant-trainer was actually looking for a nice lead-up to the traditional Chinese New Year race, which is being shortened further from a mile to 1400m this year (used to be run over 2000m), but found nothing suitable.
Clarton Super (Azhar Ismail) lands the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy on November 10, picture Singapore Turf Club
Left with no other option, Tan has decided to throw the Swift Alliance five-year-old in at the deep end.
“I was looking for a prep race to the Fortune Bowl, but l couldn’t find any. There was a Kranji Stakes A race over 1600m (on February 4), but he would have then dropped back to 1400m,” said Tan.
“It’s not the easiest race in the world. He will be running against two Derby winners, Infantry and Well Done.
“No doubt, they’re both also making their comebacks, but Well Done has run two very good barrier trials and Infantry looks in good shape too.
“But he runs well fresh and at least, it’ll give us an idea how he stacks up against them. From what he does, we will know where he is at.”
Tan said that Clarton Super has derived a good deal of benefit from his three-month break.
“He’s had a good break after the Barker. He had two weeks of hand-walk, two weeks of trotting,” he said.
“I was happy with the way he has been working, (jockey) Azhar (Ismail) is also pleased with his work overall.
“He had a barrier trial on January 30 (fourth to Dee Dee D’Or). His shoe came off, it wasn’t ideal, but he has come out of it fine.
“This morning, Azhar galloped him on Track 2. It was just a routine gallop, one lap of canter and a squeeze in the last 600m, and he’s done a good job again.”
One factor which Tan said would enhance Clarton Super’s chances is a few drops of rain until Saturday.
“I hope it rains. He likes a bit of sting out of the ground,” said ex-Penang trainer Dr Tan Swee Hock’s son.
“According to the boys, the track is just nice. When he won the Barker, there was heavy rain the day before.”
In the meantime, Tan said his current record of one win (Himalaya Dragon on January 23) does not quite do justice to the way his horses are coming along. Other than Clarton Super, he saddles one more runner on Saturday, Best Wishes in the Class 4 Premier race over 1200m, and three runners on Sunday, Centurion, Hot Gold and Kolombia.
“I’m actually happy with the way things are going,” he said.
“We’re just having a very severe case of seconditis. Just last Sunday, Himalaya Dragon and Country Boss were the last two to find one better.
“I wish they were first, but that’s one spot we can’t actually push for. We’ve had three seconds from 16 starts, which means we’re doing something right.
“Some horses had setbacks, but things will hopefully look up soon. Three new horses are coming in March, and we are looking around for some new blood.”