After Celavi, life goes on, Latest Racing News

Team Celavi did not quite connect in Seoul, but Michael Clements was still able to join some dots in his search for answers.

After flying back on Monday, he has had ample time to run a post-mortem of the mare’s failure in the cold light of day.

The 2020 Singapore champion trainer said that the mare’s last place in the 1 billion won ($1.04 million) Group 3 Korea Sprint (1,200m) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday boiled down to two main causes – the sand and the timing.

As much as Clements had seen mitigating factors for the decried Korean sand track, and convinced himself Celavi could rise above where others have sunk dismally, he eventually took a reality check.

“(Jockey) Louis (Beuzelin) said she appeared to handle the sand until a horse went in front of her. Once she got the kickback, her head went straight up and she stopped,” he said.

“I did consider pacifiers, but she’s never raced in them. In any case, they only cover the eyes whereas the kickback, which seems to have a lot more strength there, flicks back onto the whole body, the chest, the neck.

“I was told even local horses just give up halfway.

“As for the way she handled the track itself, I think it’s pure sand, like the American tracks, except they add a bit of dirt in the US.

“It’s definitely a different surface to Polytrack, which has got wax and rubber bits for that cushioning and binding effect. 

“We do get kickback but it’s not as bad as in Korea.

“I’ve been talking to trainers who raced horses there prior to Covid-19, and they all said it used to be a lot deeper. 

“I walked on it and it’s not as deep as they made it out to be.

“I think if we go back again, we’ll try and get in earlier to get the horse used to the sand track. At home, we can also request for a few gallops on the sand track known as the Hong Kong track.”

Looking back, Clements said he may have gone against his better judgment in heading to Korea.

“In future, we have to plan for the moment – treat Korea like a target race,” he said. 

“Even though she didn’t run well in the Lion City Cup, the Korea invitation came through, and we just went ‘let’s go’.

“In hindsight, she shouldn’t have. Maybe her form had dropped off, she was not herself.”

Clements, however, said the Korean raid was not an abject failure.

“We were able to see what it is all about, see the facilities they provide, and the races,” he said.

“We had a good insight on what type of horse that may suit. It was worth going there, and we now know how to plan better for it.”

Celavi also flew back on Monday, but new plans are already afoot for the eight-time Polytrack winner.

“After two weeks in quarantine, Celavi then has four to five weeks’ break,” said Clements.

“We will then bring her back in work for the Merlion Trophy on Feb 4. She’s then likely to go to Australia to become a broodmare.”

Back to the weekly Kranji grind, Clements has already shifted gears to Saturday’s team, headed by Spirit Of Big Bang and Tangible in the $85,000 Class 2 race (1,600m).

“This is just a race that is ideal in their class,” he said.

“Both performed well previously on Polytrack. There is a Class 1 race (1,600m) they will still go to in two weeks’ time.”

The duo are being targeted for the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1,800m) on Oct 15 and the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2,000m) on Nov 19.

Needing fewer points to make the cut are Clements’ “Big Four” of Top Knight, Big Hearted, Tiger Roar and Prosperous Return. Their lead-up contest is also the Class 1 race on Sept 24.

“Spirit Of Big Bang’s been unlucky with four seconds in good company,” said Clements.

“Tangible’s a genuine horse who always gives his best, but Spirit Of Big Bang is the quality horse.”

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