Te Akau's Mark Walker Leads Singapore Premiership

Date: 2 Sep 2021

Te Akau's Mark Walker Leads Singapore Premiership

 

With the Singapore racing season set to conclude in November this year, the race is on for Trainers' Premiership honours.  With another winning weekend just past, Te Akau Singapore trainer Mark Walker has now seized the initiative - and the lead - of the contest as the Singapore Turf Club reports:

 

After setting the pace from the word go, Michael Clements lost the yellow jersey to Mark Walker last week.

With three months still left in the Singapore racing season, the die is anything but cast, but fans of the reigning Singapore champion trainer would have been biting a few fingernails of late.

Winners in spades, at least one per meeting, would be treated as a weekly treat, some may even say, an entitlement.

With a potent squad of 56 horses for a stable occupancy rate only bettered by fellow powerhouse Walker's stable of 69 horses, Clements can afford both the luxury of quantity and quality to give their legion of supporters their regular fix.

Clements duly set his title defence on the right foot, albeit never as a tearaway leader, but a noticeable slump in the months of July and August has slowed the engine down a notch or two.

In 35 meetings put astern thus far, the Zimbabwean-born handler came home empty-handed only once (April 24) in the first half, but has misfired at four in the last nine meetings since July 3, including last Sunday's.

Scratch beneath the surface, he also had only five runners that day at the all-Polytrack meeting. Such skinny participation may not be an issue in itself, but this Saturday, it's down to even less, only three runners - Safeer, Sincerely and Karisto, all in the same race, the $85,000 Class 2, 1200m sprint on the bumper 12-race programme, also on the all-weather.

As if those omens were not enough to cast a pall upon fans, Walker has, in stark contrast, been firing on all cylinders while Clements sputtered, gobbling away at the margin in no time.

With a 13-horse team that dwarfed Clements' on Sunday, the Kiwi mentor and three-time Singapore champion trainer unseated his arch-rival to lead for the first time this year, never mind if he did it with only one winner, Maximilian, hitting the same score, 49, but given the leader mantle on a countback for seconds.

Clements, however, reassured that this was no mid-year hump portending some kind of trouble in the house, but more of a bump, like a temporary cooling of the jets that had been half-expected, anyway.

“We had a very good start, the first six months were exceptional. On average, we had seven winners a month, which is something we haven't done before,” he said.

“But I expected a quieter period at some stage. Some of my horses are now having a short break from racing and a lot of them have also gone up in the ratings.

“I don't have that many Class 3 and Class 4 horses running these days, and I don't have many unraced two-year-olds either.

“That's why I had only five runners last week, and this week only three. It has nothing to do with the all-Polytrack meetings.

“We have had a consistent output of winners, but at the same time, I expected a quiet spell with some horses up in the ratings, and it's just happening now.

“If you look at my past seasons, I did have a few quiet months all the time, and this year, it's been July and August. I hope we can be strong again in the last three months.

“Mark has also been producing a lot of winners, and he again sends out a big team this week. I expect him to be three or four winners clear very soon, but rest assured we will do our best to catch up.”

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