Twice, he was scratched on course in the second and third heats of the 2019 Malaysia 3YO Championship, but when finally given the opportunity, Kante (No – 6), by (Postponed – Strengthened by Woodman) was able to show his true worth in the RM200,000 Championship Final run over 1200m here yesterday.
The first time, it was a cut heel bulb near-fore that prevented him from taking the line-up in the second heat. Three weeks ago in the third heat, it was a respiratory allergy that forced him out at the last minute.
But Kante, bought for NZ$85,000 as a yearling by his owners and trained by Evert van Breukelen, had already shown promise with a first-up win in December last year. But he has not raced again since.
With Platinum Life, a course scratching in the Final due to a bruised off-fore cannon, punters installed Kante favorite in the set-weight event. Platinum Life won three races last year before winning the first heat back in April and his absence definitely robbed the Final of some colour.
It was left to the rest of the field tried to make a race of it, but in reality, only three horses were in the fight throughout.
Kante, ridden by Salee Saad, settled a handy third behind pacemaker Fantastic Eclipse and with Unshadowed General (Master Of Design – Spiritoftheriver by Bel Esprit) chasing him.
Kante was always traveling well behind the pair and was looking for a run in between the two at the home bend, but the gap did not come and Salee had to bid for his time.
By the time Salee found the gap, Fantastic Eclipse had kicked clear and seemed headed for victory. But Kante wore him down in the closing stages to win by ahead.
Unshadowed General (Master Of Design – Spiritoftheriver by Bel Esprit), fourth in the first heat before improving to finish second in heat 3, drifted out in the run home but still finished strongly in the third spot, another half a length away.
Kante stopped the clock at 1min 9.5secs, just 0.2 seconds outside the course record set by Craven and equaled by Dynamite Trio, both achieved in 1993.
Selangor Star (Niagara Causeway – Juncture by El Prado), who was second in the second heat, and King’s Order (Niconoise – Miss Bambay by Danewin), who finished third in both the first and second heats, failed to fire and were never seen with a chance.
Recent winner Rakama (Domesday – Senora Vega by Rock Of Gibraltar) also did not make any impression, nor did the third heat winner Unchained Melody (Street Boss – Cellist by Stark South).
Kante thus joins Aragorn (Manhattan Rain – Class Apart by French Deputy) and Step By Step (Captain Gerrard – American Morsecode by All Chatter) as winners of the current Malaysia 3YO Championship series which began in 2017.
Aragorn has now five wins to his name while Step By Step has two victories, and but has not tasted success since winning the Championship last year. Last year’s runner-up Relau Star is one of the current top gallopers in Malaysia.
Likewise, many others who participated in the Championship series in the past years have gone on to become notable gallopers.
If Kante stays fit, there will be many more victories coming his way. But those who followed him home could still benefit from the experience and progress from there.
Unearthing talents is the main aim of staging the Malaysia 3YO Championship series and the generous prizemoney, RM500,000 for the series, on offer is also to encourage the importation of quality young horses into the country.