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The clock was well and truly wounded back at Kranji on Saturday when multiple Group winner – Top Knight – found himself back in the winner’s circle for the first time in 585 days.
Courtesy of the drought, the three-time Group 1 winner found himself down in the weights in the $100,000 Class 1 race over 1600m, but even with just 52kgs to carry after apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong's one-kilo claim, few saw him featuring in the finish.
In the seven-horse field (Kharisma was scratched earlier on race day), Top Knight was unwanted in the betting ($62), with punters finding it hard to choose between Hard Too Think ($16), Mr Malek ($19) and Sacred Croix ($19).
And the three fancies looked to have the race between them early when Hard Too Think (Marc Lerner) led at a relatively slow pace with Sacred Croix (Wong Chin Chuen) for company on his flank, and Mr Malek (A'Isisuhairi Kasim) sitting behind in third.
The trio kicked - and given the sectionals - it looked to be tough going for anything to make up ground in what had become a "sit-and-sprint" race.
But in the small field, the likes of Top Knight and Minister (Benny Woodworth) loomed some hope at the 200m in what was shaping up as a very busy finish.
At the 100m - and with the leader Hard Too Think stopping on his run - it was anyone's race but much to the joy of the faithful followers of the Zoustar six-year-old, it was Top Knight in the familiar Falcon Racing No. 7 Stable's pale blue silks, that prevailed by half-a-length over his fast-finishing stablemate Trumpy (Hakim Kamaruddin), with Sacred Croix another head away in third.
The winning time was 1min 35.53secs over the mile on the Long Course.
Trainer Michael Clements was over the moon with the result given Top Knight's standing in the stable.
"As you say, he's a work horse and (it's) great to see him come back into the winner's circle," said Clements in response to racing presenter Scott Bailey's comment that Top Knight was indeed "an old marvel."
"Yes, he's a got a great record but he's just found it a bit tough being so high up in the handicaps of late.
"He's always been wanting a soft track – we had some rain overnight and this morning - so that bit of give in the ground was in his favour.
"In fact, he would be even better with more rain – but the claim from Simon helped. He had been running consistently recently and his time came today."
Of the future for the stable favourite who has now amassed more than $1.9 million in prizemoney?
"I think he will still find it hard at weight-for-age (level)," mused the proud trainer.
"But a race like the (Group 1 Singapore) Gold Cup at his rating would be good for him."
Kok was equally happy, especially given his connection with the Falcon Racing No. 7 Stable.
"First of all, I'm very fortunate to be wearing these colours," said the humble hoop.
"I have had a lot of luck with them. I won my only Group 1 race (Big Hearted in the 2020 Singapore Gold Cup) and my Group 3 race with Tiger Roar (in the 2021 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint), and the first time I rode Top Knight, he ran second in the (Group 1) Kranji Mile (2020).
"This old boy hasn't been back in the winner's circle for a while, so I'm very happy to get him back.
"A good horse gives you a different feel but this horse - and Tight Roar - they give you another level and you really just appreciate what they do."
The win was Top Knight's 10th from 34 career starts and you have to think there are more to come – hopefully another at Group 1 level - for lucky connections.
Dreamwalker makes Wong walk home
With Melody Fair breaking his maiden win in race 5 on the card (see previous report), the form analysts would have noted that Lim's Dreamwalker was getting support ($22) in race 8 on the card, a $50,000 Class 4 race over 1600m.
The four-year-old by Dream Ahead knocked in his first win after he beat Melody Fair two starts back on April 30 and backed up that win with a solid second placing behind the Group 1 Singapore Derby-bound Relentless on May 21 over the mile.
That form was always going to stand up and while On Line (Lerner) and Born To Win (A'Isisuhairi) got most of the support, Lim's Dreamwalker showed what he can do when he had his mind on the job, a point not lost on his jockey, Wong Chin Chuen.
"Yes, he's still green!" said Wong who had to walk back to the weighing scales after being dislodged after the race by the trickier-than-most ride.
"When he hit the front, he got a bit lost, and when I was coming back, he didn't know where he was going and just dropped me off.
"But he showed his potential at the last two starts.
"He's getting more mature. He was slightly slow today, but managed to get himself more relaxed, so distance-wise, another 200m is not a problem."
So, a Derby tilt over 1800m?
"I think it's a bridge too far," answered his trainer Steven Burridge when quizzed by Bailey.
"He's very immature and a bit light on, but when he got the run through today, he finished the race off quite nicely, so I was very happy with the effort."
Worthy mentions elsewhere on the card
Trainer Donna Logan continued her terrific run of form with another double with Stenmark ($19) making it back-to-back wins under Hakim in the $50,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over 1200m before Our Secret Weapon (Yusoff Fadzli, $52) won the $30,000 Class 5 race over 1000m.
The double puts Logan on 24 wins for the season and with Tim Fitzsimmons not bothering the scorers today, the Kiwi handler has cut the lead in the trainers' premiership to just five as we cross into the halfway mark of the season.
Trainer Jason Ong also led in a double with race-favourite Major King (Hakim, $10) winning on debut in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1200m (see earlier report) before Wild Prince (Koh Teck Huat, $90) caused an upset in the $30,000 Class 5 race over 1200m.
The only rider to knock in multiple wins was Hakim on Major King and Stenmark and the 2021 Singapore champion jockey in both the senior and junior category – after a belated start to the season - looks to be finding his mojo very quickly.