What was feared – the sand kickback – came to haunt Singapore raider Celavi in the 1 billion won (S$1.04 million) Group 3 Korea Sprint over 1,200m at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday.
Trainer Michael Clements’ prolific mare was up with the pace after a splendid start. But she started to drop back quickly to the rear in the international feature once she faced the sand kickback.
The race was won by South Korea’s Eoma Eoma (Moon Se-young) in 1min 11.2sec in a two-horse duel to the post.
Japan’s Raptus (Hideaki Miyuki), the favourite, was shouted the winner but found no answer to Eoma Eoma’s better finish. He lost by half a length.
The winner paid $35 in Singapore.
Celavi, who showed single-digit odds from the start, eased to be the $24 second favourite.
The other two foreign runners, Annaf of the United Kingdom and Computer Patch of Hong Kong, also finished unplaced.
Gate 3 was considered a good barrier, but Clements had voiced the kickback concern if his eight-time Polytrack winner was beaten for speed. He had hoped for a middle lane in the 12-horse field.
“She got into a good position early, and as soon as she run into the stinging fine sand kickback, she backed off and did not want to face it,” said the 2020 Singapore champion, who was having his first foreign foray.
Celavi’s regular jockey, Louis-Philippe Beuzelin, said he was very happy with the way his mount jumped and got into strides quickly.
But the script crumbled once Raptus crossed in from Gate 9 to lead with two other horses.
“She was right up there and the one coming on the outside was going pretty fast. She was in her rhythm and I never had to take her back or hold her, like I would in Singapore,” added the Frenchman.
“I was happy, but as soon as she got an ounce of kickback, she stopped dead at the 500m. As soon as she got some kickback, she put up her head and didn’t want to run.
“I put her back on the inside, not to get any kickback, but she was out of motivation then. It was sort of intense at the start, going up fast. Hopefully, she’ll come out of the race okay.”
Celavi will return to Singapore on Tuesday morning.
South Korea also took the 1 billion won Group 3 Korea Cup over 1,800m with Winner’s Man (Seo Seung- un), denying compatriot Moon of a stupendous double with Raon The Fighter.
Japan’s strongly fancied Sekifu (Kota Fujioka), one of three overseas runners, finished third.