Hat-trick hero Rodd pays homage to ‘teacher’ Nunes

Australian jockey Michael Rodd took the lead in the Singapore jockeys’ premiership following a riding treble on Friday night, but still showed his usual humbleness, especially after his first-pin win aboard Black Swan.

Sent out as the $13 favourite, the vastly-improved son of Sebring had to pull out all the stops to overcome a very resilient Panache (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) in the concluding stages of the $80,000 Class 3 race over 1700m.

Rodd was seen at his usual best, timing his ride to perfection as he stoked Black Swan up from the 700m to edge closer to the leading pack made up of Panache and Hidden Promise (Vlad Duric) before reeling in the pair for a half-length win.

Black Swan (Michael Rodd, No 2) gets the better of Panache (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) by half-a-length in
Race 3.

Panache was game in defeat. The Lee Freedman-trained son of Spinning World repelled Hidden Promise’s stinging challenge rather well in the home straight, but found one better in the end.

Hidden Promise shortened up inside the last 100m to run third another 2 ¼ lengths away while the other five runners did not play a significant part in the event.

While it looked like another vintage Rodd, the modest Melbourne Cup (Efficient in 2007) and Singapore Gold Cup-winning (Gilt Complex last year) hoop explained he had to apply a few recently-learned tricks of the trade from none other than former three-time Singapore champion jockey Manoel Nunes.

“Manoel and I used to ride trackwork together last time and he would always be yelling like a boss to me. Change the lead, change the lead!” said Rodd.

“I always thought horses changed legs naturally but Manoel explained to me it’s the jockey who had to get them to do it. I’ve learned so much from him and he’s taken my riding to another level – thanks Manoel.

“Like tonight, Black Swan was on his inside leg down the back and as he does, was wobbling coming to the home turn. But at the 300m, I got him to switch to his outside leg, from his nearside to his offside front and he just found another gear.”

Black Swan has taken his stakes earnings to just under the $240,000 mark for the Big Valley Stable.

Rodd also praised trainer Steven Burridge for the way he has nurtured the Japanese-owned five-year-old late bloomer into a four-time winner at the last 10 of his 30 starts.

“Sometimes we put pressure on these young horses far too soon. Steve has left this one alone and it’s done wonders on his confidence,” said Rodd.

“Not too long ago, he was struggling, but look how far he’s come. He is now winning in a quality Class 3 race.

“Steve has done a good job to keep him happy. I wish I was a pair closer tonight, but the two horses in front did a fair bit of work, and I just bided my time.

“He was in a good position down the hill and once he was on his right leg, he just quickened so well.”

Rodd’s other two winners were Prince Ferdinand ($16 favourite) for David Hill in the $20,000 Class 5 race over 1200m and Siam Gemstone ($17) for Michael Clements in the $45,000 Class 4 Non Premier race over 1100m.

With his hat-trick of wins, Rodd has propelled himself to the top on nine winners, one win clear of 2017 Singapore champion jockey Vlad Duric, who steered one (Kingsman) home in the penultimate race (see other report).

As for Burridge, the win stretched his current lead on the 2018 table to three winners – on eight, three clear of five trainers (Alwin Tan, Shane Baertschiger, Daniel Meagher, Michael Clements and John O’Hara).

“I think there is a bit of maturity (to explain Black Swan’s radical transformation),” said the Australian conditioner.

“It has taken a long time for him to put it altogether. He used to throw his head in the air, but he is all good now and Michael rode him very well.

“It’s also good for Masa Otani who has stuck with both (trainer Hideyuki) Takaoka and myself for so long.”

Autumn Rush gives Simon Kok dream start

Simon Kok Wei Hoong has loved horse riding since he was 10 but it’s taken him another 10 years to decide which way he wanted to go, and on Tuesday night the newly-licensed apprentice jockey stood tall at Kranji as he weighed in a winner at his first night of race-riding.

The Ipoh-born Kok got bitten by the horse bug when he watched his maternal uncle jockey Leong Kar Wah on TV. It wasn’t long before he was on a horseback himself and next thing he knew he went on to ride on the equestrian circuit for 10 years.

But if he wanted to follow into his uncle’s footsteps, he knew jumps and eventing would have to be cast aside one day.

Apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong off to his first win aboard Autumn Rush.

Ditching oxers and piaffes, at 20 years of age, Kok joined Kuala Lumpur racehorse trainer Frank Maynard for one year before moving down South to Singapore to Kranji trainer Stephen Gray for another year. He then transferred his indentures two blocks away to Steven Burridge late last year, and that day he had long been waiting for finally arrived last week – he got his apprentice jockey’s licence.

One week later, his new boss entrusted him with no fewer than four rides at the inaugural Tuesday night meeting – reduced to three after Pure Spark was scratched. Such was the faith the Australian handler had in his new rookie that he backed his judgement by giving him such a healthy book of rides, including Autumn Rush, a leading chance in the $80,000 Class 3 Division 2 race over 1100m.

After an unplaced baptism of fire aboard longshot Keep The Justice where he was always at the rear (finished last), Kok did not let his best chance slip through his hands at his next assignment.

Punching Autumn Rush ($30) straight to the lead from barrier No 1, Kok exhibited great poise in the saddle despite being rather lanky for a jockey, allowing his mount to amble out comfortably and even giving him a breather midrace before letting him loose into the straight.

When the Keano five-year-old suddenly opened up to a three-length lead, it became increasingly clear the 22-year-old rider was only a few metres away from making a dream start to his fledgling riding career.

Riding hands and heels mostly, Kok did give a couple of slaps to his mount just to keep his mind on the job as he started to drift out ever so slightly, but the 50.5kgs courtesy of his four-kilo claim must have also been of great assistance as the gelding kept widening the gap to eventually cross the line by more than five lengths from Unconquered (Noh Senari) with Northern Sun (Wong Chin Chuen) third another 1 ¼ lengths away.

The winning time was 1min 5.38secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack.

“I’ve always wanted to become a jockey from the time I saw my uncle ride as a kid, but I joined the Ipoh riding club first to do equestrian riding, mainly dressage and showjumping,” said the former national Malaysian equestrian rider.

“I’d like to thank Frank Maynard, Stephen Gray and my current boss Mr Burridge for their guidance and advice but also the Perak Turf Club for giving me the motivation to become a jockey.

“Having been an equestrian rider has definitely helped me as a jockey. I’ve learned the basics there and it’s helped me with my balance now.

“But when I turned 20, I knew I had to decide between showjumping and racing as I’d be too old to become a jockey after that age. I think I’ve made the right decision.

“I’ve been in Singapore for close to 1 ½ years and it’s my home now. I don’t miss home much, but I’m very happy my mum and dad came from Ipoh to see me ride tonight – I actually told them I had a good chance in race No 7!

“I’d also like to thank the Singapore Turf Club for giving me a licence. It’s a great opportunity to be riding here against very good jockeys who also give me a lot of help and advice, like Glen Boss, Michael Rodd, Vlad Duric and (ex-jockey) Danny Beasley.

“I know I still have a lot more to learn and I will just have to continue working hard.”

Kok said the instructions on Autumn Rush were to either lead or sit second – and not to forget to make full use of his four-kilo allowance.

“The horse had an advantage with the four-kilo claim. He was in a good spot and in the straight, he just went home,” said the soft-spoken young man.

“Thank you to Mr Burridge and the owner for putting me on this horse.”

Burridge was for one rather thankful he had found himself a handy four-kilo claimer in his yard.

“Simon has been with us for three months and hasn’t put a foot wrong since,” said the Australian trainer who was extending his current lead on the log by two winners on John O’Hara (seven versus five).

“He can make the grade as a rider. It’s great his mum and dad came down from Ipoh to see him win; what’s more not many ride a winner on their first day.

“It’s also great for the owner (EZ Stable). We didn’t know if he would lead, I just told Simon if they go silly to just take a sit.

“He had no weight on his back, Simon let him stride along and they went all the way.”

The 2010 Singapore champion trainer was obviously chuffed with his flying start but knew only too well not to get too complacent with 10 months and a bit still left to go.

“Things are going well, I can’t complain. When the waves are up, you catch them and you just go with the flow,” was his simple summing up of the current good vibes.

Dalgety improves out of sight with visors on

WATCH Replay – Race 8


Trainer Steven Burridge was the first to admit he made a blue when he saddled former Victorian Dalgety at his Singapore debut on January 7.

After watching the Domesday four-year-old’s past races which included one win on a heavy track at Sandown, the Australian handler declared blinkers as the headgear.

They were actually visors, which he mistook as blinkers in the TV replays. As a result, Dalgety beat one home in the Class 4 Premier race over 1400m.

Dalgety (Glen Boss) clears out for a facile victory in Race 3.

When Burridge realised his blunder, he quickly took corrective measures at his next start in Tuesday’s $45,000 Class 4 Non Premier race over 1600m: Visors were slapped on without further ado.

The difference was like night and day. While he was outpaced throughout at his debut run, he settled in midfield before rapidly closing in on leader and even-money favourite Amazing Man (Noh Senari) upon straightening.

Jockey Glen Boss gave a few shakes of the reins and Dalgety ($47) was off and gone. The Lucky Stable-owned galloper dashed clear to score by a widening margin of 4 ½ lengths over Amazing Man with Billy Britain (Michael Rodd) third another 1 ¼ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 35.56secs for the mile on the Long Course.

“When I saw the replays, they looked like blinkers to me! They didn’t have that side cut that visors have,” said Burridge, who with that win consolidates his current lead on the Singapore trainer’s premiership on six wins, one clear of John O’Hara.

“It’s only when I read they were visors that I realised why he ran so badly. Even Daniel Moor, who won on him in Melbourne and rode him at his first run here, said he was disappointing.

“But the visors switched him right back on tonight; he was a lot better. Maybe he also needed the run and more distance, and that’s why I also gave him more long work.

“The field was also weaker tonight but he’s definitely an up-and-coming horse, very promising.

“Wade (son) was the one who bought him for the Lucky Stable. He bought him for the Derby but he still has some way to go.”

Curatolo wraps up with double on Chalaza

After two winless meetings, French jockey Ryan Curatolo bounced back to the winner’s circle with a riding double on Friday night.

The former Macau-based rider began his new Singapore stint with one winner apiece (Yaya Papaya and Magic Paint) at his first two meetings, but went quiet after he fired blanks at the next two.

Curatolo was, however, back in the swing of things on Friday, when he made no mistake aboard $11 favourite Claudia’s Beauty in the $20,000 Open Maiden race over 1400m before ending the night with a flourish aboard $25 shot Chalaza in the last race, the $80,000 Class 3 race over 1200m.

Between pleasure and pain: The moment Ryan Curatolo makes a costly $500 gesture aboard Chalaza.

The US-trained hoop actually found himself in a pickle when he lost his whip as Chalaza was gaining momentum in a hotly-contested last furlong, but keeping his cool, he kept riding the Road To Rock five-year-old hands and heels to land the rewards as he kept his rivals at bay by half-a-length on the line.

Xiong Fong (Ng Choon Kiat) took second place, with $14 favourite Scorpio (Zawari Razali) given every chance but having to settle for third spot another head away. The winning time was 1min 9.82secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.

“When I lost my whip at the 200m mark, I grabbed his mane and pushed him with all my might, and luckily, he kept going,” said a relieved Curatolo at the winner’s circle.

“The horse was well placed. He was in the right spot in the race and was well trained.

“I got him balanced at the top of the straight and he produced a good effort to win.

“Things are going well for me. I’m working hard every morning and I will just have to keep it up.”

The win did not come without a hefty price for the Frenchman, though. In his exuberance, he raised his hand in a victorious salute, which was, however done just before the line, a celebratory gesture regarded as a transgression in the Stewards’ copybook and which lightened his pocket of $500.

Chalaza’s winning trainer Steven Burridge’s kind words might go some way in alleviating the pain a little for Curatolo.

“Ryan’s riding very well. He rode the horse good last start and he’s delivered tonight,” said the former jockey.

“He got him balanced right up in the straight and he timed the run very well. This horse needs to be ridden quiet, if he is too close, he plods home.

“With 57kgs on his back tonight, he was very courageous and has done a very good job.”

Raced by the Lim’s & Mark’s Stable, Chalaza was ringing up his fourth win from 13 starts for stakes earnings that have now tipped over the $180,000 mark.