Freshly-minted Singapore champion trainer Michael Clements picked up where he left off with already a first 2021 winner on the board in newcomer Mortal Engine at the inaugural season on Sunday.
A treble winner (Starlight, Imperium and Knight Love) at the last 2020 meeting to wrap a wonderful season on 61 winners, the Zimbabwean-born handler showed he had no intentions of letting up on his winning momentum at the very second race, the $75,000 Prosperity Stakes, a Restricted Maiden race over 1200m.
A former unplaced runner at his only start in Australia, Mortal Engine took up the running from his handy barrier in three before handing up the lead to Bad Boy Black (Joseph See) to take a drop in third place nicely tucked away on the rails.
Turning for home, jockey Louis-Philippe duly angled Mortal Engine out for his run, mastering Bad Boy Black rather easily, but had to contend with Ironprince (Wong Chin Chuen) who had peeled off his back to issue a stinging challenge inside the last furlong.
But the finishing line came in time for the $14 favourite who hung in by a head from Ironprince with Kwoi Hoi (Marc Lerner) third another 2 ¾ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 10.97secs.
Clements said he had been confident of a forward showing from the new Tivic Stable newcomer at his maiden outing, but the heavy showers the whole country has come under in recent days had dampened his enthusiasm a little.
“He was pretty disappointing at his only run in Australia and it was run on a heavy track. He ran terribly,” said Clements.
“What he’s shown us here in his gallops and trials had been very good and were indications he’d go well first-up, but there were some concerns over the rain-affected track.
“He handled it very well, though. He showed us a lot of speed in his gallops and I told Louis to try and get the box-seat from the barrier.
“I think he will improve off that run as he still had a bit of condition on him. He had every reason to compound in the last bit, but he produced a good effort to win.”
Beuzelin was delighted he had got off to an auspicious start to the first meeting of the year, which traditionally, is held on New Year’s Day as the New Year Cup meeting, but the Polytrack feature race has been replaced by a Kranji Stakes A race over the same 1200m distance.
“This horse showed me some promise in the morning, and he showed a bit of it today,” said the French jockey.
“I think he needed the run, and I think he will be better over 1400m. It’s an excellent start to the new year, Happy New Year everybody!”