Martial Art Shows His Chops

Pencarrow Racing was represented by the feature winner at Kranji in Singapore on Friday night, when Martial Art clinched the $150,000 Woodlands Classic Stakes.

With two scratchings - including fellow Pencarrow runner and stablemate Quinta de Lago - just six runners lined up in the feature, but that didn't deprive racegoers of an exciting finish in the 2000m race.

Last year's Singapore Gold Cup runner-up Tell A Tale headed out joint favourite with the Laxon-trained Martial Art, but it was the latter who delivered the goods, with a powerful come-from-behind finish to catch Clint right on the line.

My Drumbeat (Robbie Fradd) took up the early running before handing it over to last year’s winner Goldschatz (Olivier Placais) who decided to go forward around the first bend in order not to get caught three wide.

Clint (Ronnie Stewart) could not tuck in but stayed in second position about two lengths away, followed by My Drumbeat, Tell A Tale (Vlad Duric) with Martial Art (Joao Moreira) right on his heels and Pina Colarda (Nelito Cunha) bringing up the rear.

There was not much change to the order until the home turn when Goldschatz started sending signals of distress. Clint drew first blood to hit the front at the 400m, doing his best work to maintain the lead all the way to the line.

Tell A Tale was winding up but not pegging back the leader while My Drumbeat was also labouring under pressure. That was when Martial Art burst onto the scene with a steaming finish on the outside.

Clint looked like he could hold on but Moreira never stopped riding out his mount and was rewarded for his efforts with a last-gasp win to score by a head from Clint with Tell A Tale settling for third another 1 ¼ lengths away in the time of 2min 4.02secs.

“He’s definitely a good stayer that will go right up to Class 1 material one day,” said Laxon.

“He’s been very consistent for us and has finished out of the money only once. At his last run, he was a bit heavy and up in weight, but he’s stripped fitter for this.

“Having 53kg on his back and the small field probably helped him. It’s a pity there were only six horses in this race as the prizemoney is pretty good.

“He’s definitely a horse who can make the grade one day. The Derby and the Gold Cup are races that will be on his radar for sure.

“Joao rode him an absolute treat. He’s such a great judge of pace and can give his horses cover no matter where they are.”

The Brazilian jockey, who was at his third leg of a four-timer said Martial Art gave a very strong kick in the last 400m and he was always confident he would get there in time.

“He’s a very good staying sort and he was so relaxed all the way,” said Moreira. “When Vlad’s horse pulled away in front of us, I didn’t want to chase him as I knew we had a light weight and we could beat him.

“So I kept him switched off where he was. He ran on so strongly in the end that I have no doubt he will be even better over trips like 2400m.

“He wouldn’t stop after the winning post – I only pulled him up at the 1000m in the backstraight.

“They went quite quick and I was pretty confident he would win. At the 100m, I didn’t want to be too far behind and I just kept pushing him to catch the leader.”

Martial Art is a four-year-old by Danehill sire Tiger Hill out of the Sadler’s Wells mare Kwan. After recording two wins (1400m and 1600m) in New Zealand, he has now added two wins on local soil, the previous one registered over 1800m last November.

The Pencarrow Stud broodmare Kwan missed in 2008, but has a filly foal by Reset that will be retained by the stud.