As Michael Clements sets his sights on new blood for his yard, he must have got a kick from watching the old guard still packing a punch at Kranji on Saturday.
The 2020 Singapore champion trainer sat the races out as he had to catch an evening Sydney flight to attend the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale that begins tomorrow.
Bags were packed, sale catalogues tabbed with page markers were still sitting on his coffee table as he waited for his taxi to Changi Airport on Saturday.
But he later flew out knowing the past and present could still take care of themselves while he went taking care of the future.
Clements, who just returned from a scouting trip in Dubai, with a view to raiding some of their riches next year, is bucking the trend of owners and trainers who have been tightening their purse strings in the current uncertain climate.
The president of the Association of Racehorse Trainers Singapore (ARTS) is leading by example, even stepping out of his shopping comfort zone.
“The Inglis Easter Yearling Sale is the strongest yearling sale in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s a tough sale, and it’s not easy to get horses there,” said Clements.
“I have not really been attending it as I tend to shy away because of their prices. But there are always a few that can still fall through the cracks and come within our range. I know Stephen Gray bought Oxley Road there for A$125,000 (S$127,000).
“A couple of my clients will be there and we’ll just see how it goes.”
While the Zimbabwe-born horseman prides himself of his strike rate at horse sales, he said owners have become more sophisticated in their horse sale savviness. Hence, they do not always rely on him these days.
“I’ve had the most success buying my own horses, like Alibi, Top Knight, Big Hearted and Celavi, to name a few. I want to keep that going as we still need new horses to carry us through,” he said.
“I’ve always had a reasonable amount of confidence most will turn out to have a bright future, but these days, I also get orders from my owners. It’s a good mix.”
After the back-in-form Vittoria Perfetta bounced back to the winner’s circle in the S$50,000 Class 4 race over 1,700m on Polytrack, speedy mare Celavi came close to doubling the dose five races later.
But she was denied by Sacred Gift by an agonisingly close short head in the S$100,000 Kranji Stakes A race over the Poly 1,000m.
Clements was still pleased with that solitary win which helps maintain the pressure on current leader Tim Fitzsimmons, whose double with Lucky Jinsha and Don De La Vega has stretched his lead to two wins (18 versus 16).
“Vittoria Perfetta had only one win from six runs on Polytrack, he is more proven on turf,” said Clements.
“He hasn’t raced a lot on Polytrack, so it was a concern, but he absolutely loved it. I think he was also very well ridden by Manoel Nunes.
“In saying this, when he raced in Class 3, his runs have been reasonably solid, except for the odd one that was not so great.
“He was down in class and he loved the distance. He’s got a beautiful long stride and Manoel put it to good use.
“In the first half, he got in behind horses. But, as he’s a horse who likes a bit of space, Manoel did the right thing by letting him stride to the outside in the second half.
“They were totally in control. He’s very fit and he’ll probably be up to Class 3 level in a few weeks’ time.”