Arhat throws his hat back in the ring

Times don’t lie after Class record holder Arhat returned to winning ways in the $80,000 Class 3 race over 1700m on Polytrack on Friday night.

The Iffraaj six-year-old established the 1700m record more than a year ago when he clocked 1min 45secs in a similar Class 3 event, which incidentally was the race that saw his win counter stall at four since.

The winning time one year later was not as flash – 1min 48.06secs – but connections couldn’t care less. They were just delighted he had won again.

Arhat (Michael Rodd) hangs on for dear life to score in Race 3, picture Singapore Turf Club

Besides, the muddling-run pace of the race lent to such a sub-standard timing, and probably paved the way to Arhat’s win in the small eight-horse field.

Winning trainer Michael Clements said the decision to ride Arhat more positive had paid dividends. Arhat had been lurking at the rear in recent starts, but he was straight onto the hammer of leader Panache (Simon Kok Wei Hoong) from the get-go.

With the pace set at a steady clip, Arhat ($19) lobbed along in that spot round the two bends before being popped the question at the top of the straight.

As Panache boxed on, Arhat soon gained the ascendancy, but still had to contend with the swoopers. Big outsider O’What A Feeling (Matthew Kellady) lunged late but Arhat was able to win the blanket finish by a short head with Supernova (Zyrul Nor Azman) third another head away.

“He’s been a bit dour lately, and we wanted to shake him up a little. The plan was to get him up on the pace tonight,” said Clements.

“It was a small field and we thought it’d be the best way to ride him. Let him use his speed and track up behind the leader.

“He’s after all the class record holder, and he sustained a good solid run to the line.”

The astute decision to reunite Arhat with Rodd was another factor to the victory. The Australian jockey struck a purple patch with Arhat in 2016 with three wins in a row, but had not been aboard until recently when teaming up for a flying third in a Kranji Stakes C race over 1700m.

Obviously, the sparks between the two had not died off.

“Michael won many races with him before. A couple of owners asked to put Michael back on and it’s paid off,” said Clements.

Rodd was obviously glad he was the one to have unlocked the winning touch in Arhat again.

“We thought Panache was the only one with pace in the race. My horse was not best out of the gates, but luckily he was in the outside barrier and was able to work around to settle into a handy spot,” said Rodd.

“There were some concerns he’s been a bit switched off and they’ve been trying to sharpen him up.

“He attacked the line very well in the straight. I think he has more under the hood and it was good to get him back in the winner’s stall.”

With that fifth success, Arhat has now pushed his stakes earnings past the quarter-million mark for the Arhat Stable.