It was a scenario not many would have predicted, but Eclipse Splash turned giant-killer in the $80,000 Class 3 Division 1 race over 1400m on Friday night.
That was the race that Michael Clements’ unbeaten rising star Chopin’s Fantaisie had picked to make his comeback after a 40-day layoff.
But a major upset was in the air when the $8 hot favourite was further back than he normally was in the running.
Eclipse Splash (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) denies the fast-finishing Chopin’s Fantaisie (Glen Boss) of a fifth consecutive win.
Seventh for most of the way while noted frontrunner Big Man (Vlad Duric) led from Eclipse Splash, Chopin’s Fantaisie had the same number of horses to run past upon cornering.
Upfront, the white face of Eclipse Splash ($29) had hit the front with great cheek with lightweight Show Far Show Good (Derreck David) trying to stake a claim as well.
Well ridden by A’Isisuhairi Kasim, Eclipse Splash was doing his best work at the finish and holding his margin very well, even if he was stargazing a touch.
Just when trainer Steven Burridge and Indonesian outfit Eclipse Stable thought their charge would upstage the hotpot easily, the latter started to sprout wings under Glen Boss’s hard riding.
For a second, it looked like Chopin’s Fantaisie would spare himself the blushes, but Eclipse Splash still had some petrol left in the tank as he hung on with half-a-length to spare in the end.
Smokie Gariza (Oscar Chavez) also joined the fray on the outside but peaked on his run to finish third another half-a-length away. The winning time was 1min 22.2secs for the 1400m on the Short Course.
Burridge described Eclipse Splash as a genuine horse who has exceeded his expectations ever since he came to him after his sole winning debut in Kuala Lumpur for Frank Maynard.
“He’s done a very good job, he’s an up-and-coming horse, very promising and with a lot of scope,” said the Australian trainer.
“Coming off from Malaysia, his form has been quite solid ever since. The favourite was hard to beat but he’s been a bit unlucky, I don’t know.
“But my eyes were on my horse and Harry rode him very well. There was a strong pace and Harry just sat off it and rode him really well to the line.
“Here I again have to thank Sully (Eoin Sullivan), the racing manager for the owner, Mr Iman Hartono who is here tonight.
“The horse has had five starts for me and he continues to improve. Tonight he won in a very strong Class 3 race.”
A’Isisuhairi said Eclipse Splash was still a bit of a baby, but certainly had plenty of upsides about him.
“I rode him at his two previous wins, and I’ve won on him again tonight. He showed me again how good he was,” said the Malaysian jockey.
“He’s still learning but he is on his way to better things. He can gallop, and from the way he won in Malaysia, I knew he could win in Class 4 and I always believed he could win in Class 3, too.
“Once he puts it all together, he will turn into a decent horse.”
The two-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey said he thought he would dig Eclipse Splash up a little earlier this time going with his last barrier trial on August 17.
“He used to settle midfield but he won going all the way at his last run and he again showed speed at his last trial,” he said.
“He jumped good today and as he’s a horse who doesn’t like to be held back, I slipped some reins and let him stride along to sit off behind the leader.
“He was very comfortable and once he found his balance, he kicked clear, but he wanted to stop once he hit the front. He was twitching his ears, thinking the job was done, but he’s got big strides and he just kept going.”
Sullivan said he had not been all that confident the Showcasing four-year-old would come up trumps with the presence of Chopin’s Fantaisie in the line-up, but was glad his visit along with Mr Hartono was greeted with a superb win and an opportunity to head on down to the winner’s circle for a photograph.
“I wasn’t sure he could win, but we still decided to come to Singapore to watch him and we’ve also got Moritz Eclipse (just failed to catch favourite Justice Light) in the last race,” said Sullivan.
“Eclipse Splash is still a bit weak but Steve has done a great job with him and Harry seems to get along so well with him.
“The owners have bought a half-brother of his. It’s still a baby and should be racing here soon.”
With that third win from five outings, Eclipse Splash has taken his stakes earnings past the $115,000 mark for the Eclipse Stable, not to mention the RM40,000 he made in Malaysia from that one-from-one win.