Clements backs Seow for Top ride

Singapore champion trainer Michael Clements is backing youth as he gives local apprentice jockey Jerlyn Seow Poh Hui the vote of confidence on one of his stable stars in Top Knight this Saturday.

TOP KNIGHT winning the QUEEN ELIZABETH II CUP GROUP 1
TOP KNIGHT winning the QUEEN ELIZABETH II CUP GROUP 1 Picture: Singapore Turf Club

Only two combinations (Miej and Siam Royal Orchid) were formed between the two in the past, resulting in two unplaced finishes, but the 2020 Singapore Derby winner is by far the highest-profile ride the rookie has been assigned, not for just Clements, but all up from her 100-odd rides since she commenced her new craft in January.

Clements, however, said Seow's four-kilo claim outweighs her relative inexperience – and it should not get in the way in any case.

"Top Knight  is a simple horse to ride. He gets back and just needs to make a bit of a run before turning for home," said the Zimbabwean-born trainer.

"I spoke to (regular partner) Vlad (Duric). With the weight (58kgs) he gets, over 1400m, it's almost impossible for him to make ground unless we take some weight off his back.

"Vlad understood and I was happy to put Jerlyn on."

In four starts since that remarkable last-from-first win under a deluge in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m) on October 31, the Falcon Racing No 7 Stable-owned galloper has been unable to make it to win No 10, but Clements said he had valid excuses.

The 1200m of the first two runs (including the Group 1 Lion City Cup) this year - since his last 2020 start when a creditable third in the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) – were obviously not ideal.

The Zoustar five-year-old could then only muster a fifth place (but only around two and a half lengths off the winner Minister) in the Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) at his last start on May 22, with Clements blaming the track for the moderate performance.

"He had a few excuses at his last run. He got back and was quite far away," he said.

"The track was pretty fast, and the horse in front (Fame Star) got away. On the Short Course, he had too much ground to make.

"He likes a bit of sting out of the ground, but that day, there was no rain and they couldn't water the track that day because of some problem with the sprinklers.

"The race just didn't suit him. A bit of rain will help this week.

"At the same time, the 1400m on the Long Course is okay, but there is a more suitable race coming up for him on July 10, a Class 1 race over 1600m.

"There are not a lot of races at weight-for-age for him. Those Kranji Stakes A races put him at the top of the handicap and that makes it hard for him.

"We can only continue racing him to bring him up for the Raffles Cup, the QEII Cup later in the year, though the Gold Cup is a handicap race. We'll see how he goes."

Clements is aware Top Knight has not quite reproduced that spark that saw him win two Group 1 races in 2020, albeit he also ran the odd howler, but remained confident the motor was still there.

"He's not at his peak, he's not at his best, that's for sure," he admitted.

"But he's in good enough form. He's certainly fit and well within himself and we can just keep heading towards the big races later in the year with him."


Singapore Turf Club