Group winner Starlight came out for a light piece of work at the barrier trials on Tuesday, but it sure oozed confidence ahead of his racing return.
The fluid strides under little coercion from jockey Louis-Philippe Beuzelin were telltale signs he was cherry-ripe for his next assignment.
The Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic (1,400m) winner did not make his presence felt at his racing comeback on Jan 15, beaten in fifth place more than four lengths off Kharisma.
Trainer Michael Clements freshened him up again – a decision that seems to have paid off.
Though third to Hotshots Slam in Tuesday’s hit-out, he was a picture of composure while the others looked under the pump.
Clements has set the Headwater four-year-old for Saturday week’s Class 1 race over 1,000m on Polytrack.
“Starlight had a great first prep and made his comeback back in January, and then had another break after that run,” said Clements.
“He will run in a Class 1 over 1,000m next week and we may then look at a Class 1 1,200m two weeks later.”
Past those two, the Zimbabwe-born handler will again test the waters over more ground.
A four-time winner between 1,200m and 1,400m, Starlight misfired at his only race over 1,600m last August.
Convinced Starlight had stamina on his side, Clements was puzzled by the lacklustre performance, but has not given up hope the PSM Racing Stable-owned galloper will prove him right one day.
“Sprint races are his immediate plans, but he’s a horse who indicated that he would get a bit of distance. In all his races to-date, he’s, however, shown a lot of speed,” said Clements.
“He’s still not able to fully settle, even if in his work, he looks quite relaxed like in his trial yesterday.
“That keenness shows more in his racing, and we’re just hoping he’ll be able to settle so we can get him over longer distances.
“We can then look at races like the Raffles Cup, and Queen Elizabeth II Cup for him. But, if it doesn’t work out, then we can bring him back to sprint races like the Lion City Cup.
“As he’s got a light weight, Ronnie Stewart will ride him at his comeback next week.”
For this week, Clements, who has handed the lead back to hat-trick hero Tim Fitzsimmons last Saturday, will be relying on a team of 11 runners to stay in touch, including Top Knight.
The former Singapore Four-Year-Old Champion has not visited the winner’s circle since the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1,800m) in October 2020.
It has been a long time between drinks for a horse that gave the Falcon Racing Stable multiple toasts at the Champagne Room.
But Clements is keeping the faith and is not about to write off the rising seven-year-old just yet.
“Top Knight has been training well and his work still looks promising. We expect some improvement if he gets rain,” he said of the son of Zoustar.
“Unfortunately, he never gets rain-affected tracks. Whenever we enter him, you know, it’s not going to rain – it would have made a huge difference.
“There is nothing wrong with his legs, it’s just that as horses get older, they tend to prefer wet tracks. Oscar Chavez will ride him this Saturday.
“It’s too sharp, but if it rains, you may see him bounce back to form.”