Six Al Rashid Stable horses have left trainer Michael Clements’ yard to continue their racing careers in the Middle-East.
Almugir, Jacksa and Zahau are already in quarantine in Dubai, and will shortly be followed on the next planeload (November 11) by Al Meqdam, Day Approach and Mellad.
Shuttling horses around the world is not new to Kuwaiti businessman Fahad Ibrahim Khalid Al-Rashid, who fronts the global racing operation with horses based across his hometown, Dubai, America, England and Malaysia, among others, but this is the first time horses from his Kranji team have relocated overseas.
A two-time winner at Kranji, Day Approach will pursue his career in Dubai or Kuwait, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Horse movement is not something trainers have control over, and while Clements will miss some of the six who left, the good news is it may not be farewell to all of them.
“Fahad already has racing interests in Dubai and Kuwait. These horses who left were mostly Class 4 types here, so they won’t be running in the Dubai Carnival, but the lesser races first,” said the Singapore champion trainer.
“I understand some may even come back to Singapore if things don’t work out for them there.
“Of the six, I would say Zahau could have gone on with it here. He had some aches and pains which delayed his full race prep, but he showed promise with a second to Starlight once (Restricted Maiden in December).
“Al Meqdam and Day Approach just got gelded and I was also looking forward to their next runs here, but we won’t know now – unless they come back.”
While any horses who leave en masse for other horizons can be a worrying omen, Clements assured the Kuwaiti outfit were still committed to Singapore racing.
Besides, the yellow-brown silks with the white logo will still be carried by five horses under Clements’ care, including their stable banner So Hi Class, who contests the $300,000 Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m) this Saturday.
The other four are Kassab, an English-bred Exceed And Excel four-year-old who has not won yet but showed some ability, staying mare Voluminous and Argentinian three-year-olds Istataba and Anara. Other horses have also been either retired or sent to Malaysia like Mardoona and Miej respectively.
Earlier in the year, Al Rashid had also diversified its Kranji portfolio with three-time Singapore champion trainer Mark Walker. They first sent former Singapore Gold Cup winner Mr Clint (from Lee Freedman’s dispersal sale), followed by seven fresh exports, of whom three have already saluted, Qaidoom, Dinar and Hamama.
On the other hand, none from the new Al Rashid-Walker team, which also includes Bleu Marine, Walim, Kinver Edge and Maaroof, are part of this Singapore-Middle East migration.
Clements is not really privy to the reason for the move, other than it was their prerogative to follow some of the partners’ wish to redeploy horses closer to home.
“From what I understand, some family members wanted to split the horses and bring them over to Kuwait and Dubai,” he said.
The Zimbabwean-born conditioner will certainly be keen to follow the future careers of horses he helped shape up, but also to get a line through the runs for his own personal “desert raid”, previous attempts of which had vanished like oasis dreams thus far.
“I’ll be watching their future racing careers with great interest,” he said.
“I’m also considering sending horses to Dubai again next year. Though some of the races Fahad’s horses are going for are reasonably high in the ratings, I’ll be looking more towards the undercard races leading up to the Dubai Carnival.
“It’s been an ambition of mine to travel with horses one day. I had Kiwi Karma entered for Dubai (in Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in 2016), but we pulled out because of the Strangles ban.
“Then in 2019, I had entered Countofmontecristo and a few of Joe’s (Singh) horses in the Dubai World Cup races, but COVID-19 struck. They were not selected, anyway.
“I’ve got the 2022 brochures already and the first meetings would be in early January. So, I still have a bit of time.
“Obviously, I’d like to take horses like Top Knight and Big Hearted, as well as Celavi in sprint races, but I’ll wait after the Gold Cup (November 14) before making any decision.”
Clements’ formidable Falcon Racing duo of Top Knight and Big Hearted, second and third respectively in the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1600m), will be looking to turn the tables on the winner and likely favourite Lim’s Lightning in the QEII Cup, alongside three other runners who also contested the Raffles Cup, Prosperous Return (fourth), Ocean Crossing (sixth) and So Hi Class (ninth) for exactly the same five-pronged challenge.
Clements is hoping the extra furlong over the Long Course of the QEII Cup can help one of his quintet lower the colours of Lim’s Lightning.
“The 1800m on the Long Course will suit Top Knight and Big Hearted better. They’re both in great form, but obviously, they will have to beat Lim’s Lightning,” he said.
“The rest are also well. Prosperous Return is so genuine, he ran just a couple of lengths off Top Knight and Big Hearted in the Raffles.
“So Hi Class is in good form, and a bit of give in the ground will help him.
“Ocean Crossing could be the dark horse, he’s very well and is in great shape. We may change tactics with him, we may run him more forward this time.”