Former New Zealand-trained galloper Cavalry got his Singapore career off to a winning start when he kicked clear to score comfortably in a Class 3 1400m race at Kranji on Saturday for new trainer Michael Clements.
Previously known as Tutukaka, the Tavistock gelding was a dual stakes-winner for Tony Pike and changed hands in a deal brokered by bloodstock agent Bevan Smith.
Now raced by the King Power Stable, the three-time winner arrived in Singapore in April.
He stepped out for two barrier trials two months later and quickly found himself facing the Kranji starter for the first time on Saturday.
Despite the hectic preparation, Cavalry showed that he has taken to his new environment like a fish to water when he relaxed nicely under jockey Daniel Moor on the rails.
After racing in third for much of the contest, Cavalry issued his challenge mid-stretch when a gap presented and he went on to score by just under two lengths from Wealth Elite and Vittoria Perfetta.
The S$400,000 Singapore Derby (1800m) on July 23 is now on the agenda, with a long-range target being the S$1 million Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) on November 11
Moor was pleased with the feel Cavalry gave him on raceday.
“The field he has beaten was just fair but the fact that the preparation wasn’t ideal and the trip was short of his best, it was a good effort,” Moor said.
“I wanted to see if he could switch off and relax and he did.
“I was very surprised with the way he took that needle eye opening. When I asked him for an effort, he pinned his ears back and quickened up sharply.
“If he can do so over seven furlongs, relax like he did and bring that turn of foot to a race like the Derby, then he’s a top seed.
“Beyond that, he could be the perfect Gold Cup horse.”
A half-brother to star mare Melody Belle, Cavalry was a $250,000 yearling purchase by Pike Racing from the 2020 Karaka yearling draft of Haunui Farm.
Sydney-based bloodstock agent Bevan Smith, who buys a number of horses for Clements, was the man tasked with finding a Singapore Derby aspirant.
“Alastair Donald who is the racing and bloodstock manager for King Power Stable, who have a number of horses in work with Michael Clements, approached me in April to find a horse at short notice for the Singapore Derby,” Kiwi native Smith said.
“New Zealand was the only option as there is no quarantine leaving New Zealand for horses going to Singapore.
“I went through all of the four-year-olds with recent form and identified Tutukaka. His last run was in the Herbie Dyke Stakes (Gr.1, 2000m) when seventh. His run was OK but he was probably not Group One level in New Zealand.
“Tony Pike had managed him well and there was plenty of racing left in him.
“We approached Tony and the deal was done pretty quickly. For a horse that had had a few starts he vetted out very cleanly.
“Tony gave the horse a good rap. He has a great temperament, he is clean-winded and he is a horse that doesn’t take a lot of work to get fit.
“He was probably the ideal horse to fit the job and at short-notice get up there and be racing.”
Subsequent to the deal being struck, Pike kept Cavalry in work and trialled him at Te Awamutu in late April for his new connections.
“He went up there and had two weeks off in quarantine in Singapore. The work Tony Pike did was instrumental in getting the horse to win first-up,” Smith said.
Smith is looking forward to being in attendance at Kranji in a fortnight for the Derby.
“It is a pretty sad state that Singapore Racing will be closing late next year. This will be one of the last chances that I get to go there for racing purposes, but the horse is a live chance in the Derby and I have some very good clients in Singapore,” Smith said.
“We know he will stay the 1800m whereas there is a big question mark with the other two at the top of the betting (Golden Monkey and Super Salute) as to whether they will get the trip.
“It will be a great experience to be there and see him. By all accounts he pulled up really well. He is very sound and ate everything so at this stage it is all systems go for the Derby.”