Hot favourite Eye Guy was staring down the barrel of imminent defeat, but sheer grit saw him pick himself off the canvas to land the spoils by the scruff of the neck on Friday night.
After a tough passage in the $80,000 Class 3 Division 2 race over 1200m when he could not cross onto the fence with Lim’s Sincere (Chin See Cheng) kicking up on the inside, the $11 first-elect indeed looked under the pump at the point of the turn.
As Splinter (Nooresh Juglall) came sweeping around to collar him and edge past, looking full of running, he seemed incapable of mustering a response.
Eye Guy (Olivier Placais) fights back to get the better of Splinter (Nooresh Juglall) in Race 5, picture Singapore Turf Club
But under jockey Olivier Placais’s relentless urgings, Eye Guy gave some hope to his legion of backers he would not be joining the beaten brigade after all.
Inch by inch, he clawed his way back on the inside of Splinter to eke back a slender advantage which he tenaciously maintained to the wire inside the last 150m of the Polytrack course he was tackling for the first time.
The photo print showed Eye Guy had outslugged Splinter by a head with Anonymous (Ryan Curatolo) third another two lengths away. The winning time was 1min 11.79secs for the 1200m on the Polytrack.
Heaving a huge collective sigh of relief with the legion of punters who backed Eye Guy, Clements said he thought the hotpot was well and truly beaten at the 300m.
“The first half was very tough for him, but luckily he got clear at the 200m. The other horse gave a bit of cheek, but he dug deep to win,” said Clements who was at a training double after $196 longshot Viola Da Terra won Race 3, the $60,000 Class 4 Premier race over 1400m.
“He’s a pretty powerful horse and I was quite confident he would get through the Polytrack.
“He’s an improving horse. The way he’s going, I would probably look for another Class 3 race for him and maybe look at a sprint feature and eventually the 4YO series next year.”
Placais, who got the steering job mainly thanks to the handicap of 53.5kgs which jockey Vlad Duric (who rode him at his slashing barrier trial win two weeks ago) cannot make, said he had been forewarned of the scenario that panned out inside the last furlong.
“I was scared at the top of the straight when Nooresh’s horse came next to me. My horse felt flat,” said Placais who was at a riding double after saluting earlier aboard Quadcopter.
“Michael did tell me he is a horse who waits for someone else to come before he comes back again. I think the other horse took half-a-length on us, and that’s when he started to fight back.
“At the 200m or 250m, I knew I would beat the other horse as he was going quicker than him.
“He’s still a big baby and I would say he’s only at 60% of his full capacity. He’ll be a better horse next year.”
With that third win and a third place on debut, Eye Guy, a four-year-old by Bradbury’s Luck has taken his stakes earnings around the $130,000 mark for the Giovanni Racing No 7 Stable.