Trainer Lee Freedman is taking a leaf from his star stayer Paris Lane’s packed 1994 Caulfield Cup-winning campaign in an attempt to get Mr Clint to reach his peak fitness for the $1 million Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m) on May 26.
Conventional wisdom would have any three-year-old contender with sprinter-miler aptitudes like Mr Clint going through all three Legs (1200m, 1400m and 1600m) of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge with no real necessity of a prep run in between.
Freedman did indeed launch the son of Power on such a trail after he scored at his last lead-up run in a Class 4 Premier race over 1400m in January.
Singapore Guineas runner Mr Clint gets to put one more race under the belt this Friday, picture Singapore Turf Club
Regarded more as a miler, Mr Clint still ran a smashing second to Be Bee in the first Leg, the Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m) on March 30. Three weeks later, he, however, ran unplaced to Mister Yeoh in the second Leg, the Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic (1400m).
With the third Leg, the Singapore Guineas always locked away as his Holy Grail, most expected Mr Clint would not race again until then, but his name has popped up on Friday night’s racecard in the $80,000 Class 3 race over 1400m – only one week before the Guineas.
Freedman quickly reassured fans that Mr Clint was not skipping the Guineas for a “softer option”. He is pressing on and going the whole hog, it’s just that he felt the Oscar Racing Stable-owned gelding was short of one run.
He actually had a wide buffer of five weeks after the Classic, but he still chucked Mr Clint into a race as close as one week before.
While Freedman said that such an unorthodox pathway had not been planned for Mr Clint, he did not baulk at the idea, which in his book is already a tried and tested method.
The Australian Hall of Fame trainer said he successfully used such a blueprint “with numerous horses” during his dominant training era in Melbourne, but Paris Lane sprang to mind as the classic example.
The son of Persian Heights ran three weeks in a row – second in the Group 2 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) on October 2, 1994, third in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) one week later before handing Freedman the second of his four Group 1 Caulfield Cups (2400m) on October 15.
Now, Mr Clint is no Paris Lane by any stretch of the imagination, but Freedman firmly believes the core principle behind such a packed schedule can work with any horse.
“It wasn’t always the plan to run him one week before the Guineas, but Mr Clint is a horse who puts his weight on quickly,” he said.
“Which is fantastic, but there is nothing like a race to trim a horse up. I felt he was short of a run and that race on Friday night was perfect.
“I’ve had a lot of success with horses on the quick back-up towards a big race. One off the top of my head is Paris Lane who ran three weeks in a row before winning the Caulfield Cup.
“To be honest, I was a tad disappointed with Mr Clint’s run in the Classic. Having said that, to be fair, he drew badly and had to be ridden negatively.
“King Louis was on his outside, hip and shoulder from the top of the straight. To get beaten three lengths under those circumstances was after all a satisfactory result.”
With Mr Dujardin and Super Dynasty also in the mix for the Guineas, Freedman had to rejig the rides around a little.
Craig Grylls, who has ridden Mr Clint at five of his seven starts, including his two wins, has been replaced. Vlad Duric is the new jockey in Friday’s “top-up” race while it is Hong Kong-based Australian jockey Zac Purton (flying in to ride Southern Legend for Hong Kong in the $1.5 million Invitational Group 1 Kranji Mile) who partners him in the Guineas, while Duric rides Mr Dujardin and Grylls jumps on Super Dynasty.