AK Lim fires up first Kranji win on Spirit Seven

WATCH Replay – Race 3

Former Kuala Lumpur apprentice jockey Lim Aun Kean finally rode his first winner in Singapore on Friday night.

That big first might not have come for his new master John O’Hara, but the 30-year-old Kedah-born rider was first and foremost happy he had broken the duck at his 17th Kranji ride.

It’s trainer Steven Burridge who supplied Lim with the winning ride – $150 outsider Spirit Seven in the $45,000 Class 4 Non Premier race over 1600m.

Malaysian apprentice jockey Lim Aun Kean opens his account in Singapore aboard Spirit Seven on Friday.

Another longshot, One Force (Iskandar Rosman), was fighting out the finish with O’Reilly Bay (Zy Nor Azman), but they were both left standing when Lim brought Spirit Seven with a well-timed run, sailing home on the outside for quite a soft win by 1 ¾ lengths from One Force.

Plato (Alysha Collett) plugged on along the rails to finish third another three parts of a length away. The winning time was 1min 35.62secs for the 1600m on the Short Course.

“I’ve always wanted to ride in Singapore and it’s great to finally ride my first winner here,” said Lim, who had 106 winners under the belt when he was indentured to trainer Wayne Lim Woei Chet up North.

“It’s been a bit of a wait, but I just had to be patient. I hope I will get more support from other trainers from now on.

“It doesn’t matter if that first win didn’t come for Mr O’Hara. I’m sure I will ride a winner for him soon.

“I actually rode that horse at his last start. He ran on very well then.

“Credit to the trainer who has kept him fit after that run. The horse has actually improved.

“We had a good run from the start. He doesn’t have a lot of speed, but we were able to secure the rails, and we improved to be midfield.

“Turning for home, I took him to the outside. When we got the gap, he just flew home for a very nice win.”

Lim, who has already been nicknamed AK47 by the local media, actually knew the Hala Bek five-year-old fairly well as he rode him at his last start (Class 4 Non Premier over 1400m) last Friday. The pair turned in an eye-catching fourth.

Though Spirit Seven was the first standby starter this time, Burridge booked Lim again – an inspiring move from the Malaysian’s perspective no doubt, after Roman Classic was withdrawn.

“He won a nice race two starts back, which was on Polytrack, but he also ran well on turf before,” said Burridge.

“He’s come right now. He had some feet issues that we have sorted.

“We can train him more properly now and he won a solid race tonight. AK rode him well at his last start and that’s why I kept him on. Good for him to get his first winner.”

With that fourth win, Spirit Seven has now taken his stakes earnings past the $110,000 mark for his owner Chionh Teck Swee.

Story by Michael Lee
27/07/2018

Lim’s Lightning sparks fighting win in Aushorse Golden Horseshoe

WATCH Replay – Race 6

The victory was harder to engineer than expected but favourite Lim’s Lightning still got the job done in the $325,000 Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) on Friday night.

Unlike his emphatic four-length win in the third Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series, the IRT Juvenile Stakes (1200m) on June 15, Lim’s Lightning ($12) had to flex every sinew of his athletic 508-kilo frame to overpower a very tenacious foe in surprise packet Galvarino.

Again ridden by his last-start winning partner Ryan Curatolo, Lim’s Lightning actually enjoyed an energy-saving soft run in transit after jumping from barrier No 2, settling cosily in the box-seat behind the pacy Lim’s Dream (John Powell) with Galvarino (Troy See) for company on his outside.

Lim's Lightning

Lim’s Lightning (Ryan Curatolo) reels in outsider Galvarino (Troy See) to claim the Aushorse Golden
Horseshoe.

Behind, the rest of the capacity 16-horse field was fairly strung out with many of the top picks who had drawn the cheap seats looking hard-pushed to make up the deficit, notably the unbeaten Pennywise (Nooresh Juglall), who was further compounded by a tardy getaway, Siam Vipasiri (Daniel Moor) and Toosbies (Michael Rodd).

As the leading bunch swung for home, Lim’s Dream quickly capitulated, but it was Galvarino ($151) who drew first blood as he strode to the front with the cheek of a juvenile who had thus far exhibited more prowess (of the untutored kind) at the barriers than down the home straight, though he did run a decent fourth at his only start in that same third Leg won by Lim’s Lightning.

That day, the son of Stryker was left standing more than four lengths astern when Lim’s Lightning bolted, but the roles were switched in the grand final as he turned into the one to chase down, absolutely looking the part as he kept knuckling down to the task with 200m to go.

But class prevails in adversity. Taunted and caught a little on the backfoot, Lim’s Lightning did not take it lying down.

Responding to Curatolo’s urgings, the son of Lope De Vega rose to the challenge as he snuck up on the inside of Galvarino, gnawing his way back with every stride towards a most regal showdown inside the last 100 metres.

Two youngsters, raw in all their glory, but fighting tooth-and-nail as much as their unbridled talent can afford them, with the nod eventually going to the punters’ elect by a short head. Conquered he may have been at the last hop, but the gallant Galvarino had also conquered many new admirers.

Still, the run of the race had to be from My Big Boss (Vlad Duric) who no doubt vaulted his way into the blackbookers with a scorching late dash on the outside to secure a laudable third place another one-and-three-quarter lengths away. The winning time was 1min 10.07secs for the 1200m on the Short Course.

Winning trainer Steven Burridge, who was snaring his third Aushorse Golden Horseshoe win after Pitstop (2012) and Lim’s Racer (2016), praised the people behind the scenes in his victory speech, particularly former jockey Richard Lim for helping the previously wayward juvenile turn the corner.

“The horse hasn’t run in one month. We had to nurse him back to fitness,” said the Australian conditioner.

“Big thanks to my staff, my wife Julie of course, and also, Richard Lim who has done a good job on him. He was quite a handful earlier and Richard has spent a lot of time educating him properly.”

Prize presentation

Winning connections all smiles after Lim Lightning’s triumph: (from left) jockey Ryan Curatolo, trainer
Steven Burridge, racing manager Mick Dittman and owner Mr Lim Siah Mong.

The other main beneficiary of all the backroom boys’ hard work was of course Curatolo, the former Macau-based French jockey who was claiming his first Group success in Singapore.

“I’m really delighted with that first Group win in Singapore,” said the US-trained hoop who was also ringing up a hat-trick of wins, having earlier saluted aboard Smooth Operator and Turquoise King.

“He’s a very good racehorse with a great pedigree and he proved it again today. The last 200m was not as strong as at his last win, but that was because he was not so comfortable on the inside as he is on the outside.

“I’ve said all week it wasn’t an easy race, but he proved he was something special with the way he fought all the way to the line.

“I’d like to thank Steven Burridge and (racing manager) Mick Dittman and all the staff. It was a great team effort.

“Things are going well for me here, and I’ve got so much to look forward to. I just have to keep on going stronger.”

Dittman said the stable was very proud of their second Aushorse Golden Horseshoe winner after Lim’s Racer, but also paid compliments to a trainer he has now worked closely with since the champion owner’s 2015 Kranji comeback after a hiatus.

“He showed some ticker out there tonight that horse. The second horse gave a good kick, but he fought back in the last 50 yards,” said the former Sydney champion jockey known as The Enforcer.

“We’re very proud of him considering he’s had only three starts. He’s got a good future.

“It’s not been easy for Steve to keep that horse up in the last three to four weeks, but he’s victorious and we’re very happy.

“Mr Lim (Siah Mong) puts a lot of money in races and loves his races. Those big races are so important to him.

“It’s great to get to the big races and have the right horse to get it right.”

Buying on behalf of the Lim’s Stable, Dittman did not actually have to break the bank for Lim’s Lightning. He cost only $50,000 at the 2017 Magic Millions Horses in Training Sale, which incidentally makes him eligible for the $70,000 bonus on top of the lion’s share of the $325,000 purse up for grabs – roughly around $165,000.

Adding on to the $56,000 already in the bank following his second-up win in the IRT Juvenile Stakes and a debut third in a Novice race, Lim’s Lightning has amassed close to $290,000 in earnings, more than recouping his purchase price tag in only three runs.

And last but not least, Lim’s Lightning also won the “Best Groomed” horse award, sending his happy strapper home $500 richer.

Story by Michael Lee
13/07/2018

Autumn Rush springs another win for Kok

WATCH Replay – Race 7


Promising apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong made it three wins with his pet horse Autumn Rush on Friday night.

The Keano five-year-old memorably gave the young Ipoh-born rider his first career win on January 23 and that latest success in the $100,000 Kranji Stakes B race over 1000m has brought up their overall combination tally to three wins and one third from eight associations.

The former Malaysian equestrian rider called Autumn Rush, who is trained by his master Steven Burridge, his “special horse” as he weighed back in to his seventh win all-up.

Autumn Rush races past his rivals under the urgings of apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong to land the Kranji Stakes B race on Friday.

“He’s a very special horse to me as he gave me my first win,” said a beaming Kok.

“At his second win, he flew home for me and tonight, he gave me a beautiful ride throughout.

“The boss told me to go forward but there were a couple of horses who were quicker. So I took a sit instead.

“When I peeled him out for his run, he fought very hard to catch Benny’s (Woodworth) horse (Pioneer Seven).

“I’d like to thank the connections for putting me on this horse.”

Burridge for one has stuck solid with the young man as far as finding a pilot for Autumn Rush goes – even when things did not quite pan out the way they wanted.

“He’s a very honest horse and Simon rode him well tonight,” said the Australian handler as he was wildly cheered on by an ecstatic group of connections and friends.

“I tried to take them up in class with no weight, but he was drawn awkwardly. He drew well this time (two), sometimes it makes a difference, sometimes it doesn’t, but he had the gun run tonight.”

For a fleeting moment, Pioneer Seven gave the impression he would cause another one of those boilovers he is known for when he is left alone upfront, but Kok had other ideas as he waited for the home straight to launch his “special horse”.

Pioneer Seven ($102) put up a spirited fight, but Autumn Rush ($29), in hot pursuit, wore him down with every stride to eventually gain the advantage by 1 ¼ lengths with Marine Treasure (Zy Nor Azman) sharing third place with the fast-finishing favourite Elite Power (Vlad Duric) another head away. The winning time was 58.97 seconds for the 1000m on the Polytrack.

Already a stakes winner of close to $200,000 before Friday’s race, Autumn Rush has now boosted that amount by another 25% with that fifth win. Australian jockey Glen Boss was twice his winning partner before Kok took over.

Story by Michael Lee
22/06/2018

Lightning return to the top for Curatolo in IRT Juvenile Stakes

WATCH Replay – Race 4


French jockey Ryan Curatolo was a man in a hurry after he drove Lim’s Lightning first across the line to take out the $90,000 IRT Juvenile Stakes Open 2YO race over 1200m on Friday.

The 26-year-old rider fractured his right ankle on May 4 after a fall from the Mark Walker-trained Lim’s Rhythm (incidentally his one and only ride this Sunday in a Restricted Maiden race over 1600m) on the way to the barriers, and was told he would need six weeks to recover.

But thanks to the “miracle hands” of a Chinese therapist and regular fitness workouts, Curatolo, who rode in US and Macau previously, made his racing comeback one week earlier on Friday with a healthy book of five rides.

Lim’s Lightning (Ryan Curatolo) scores going away in the IRT Juvenile Stakes on Friday.

After two unplaced rides aboard Swift Embrace and Sacred Galaxy, Curatolo was right on target on Lim’s Lightning in the third Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series.

“I was out for five weeks, and I was working with a Chinese therapist who was amazing. I am very thankful to him,” said Curatolo, who is at his 23rd win of the season.

“I had been eating well, but I had to start to diet as I got a little heavier, but now my fitness is pretty good.

“I’m very pleased to get the opportunity (from owner Mr Lim Siah Mong of Lim’s Stable), and I thank everyone who has been supporting me.”

On the two-year-old son of Lope De Vega who last ran third on debut in a Novice race over 1200m with Daniel Moor aboard, Curatolo noted his greenness, but was glad with the way the gelding raced away to score.

“I watched the replay and studied the race. He did not have the best trip,” said Curatolo.

“Today, he broke from barrier 13, put himself in a good position. I just sat there and relaxed.

“He was very comfortable, and when I pushed the button, he just raced away.

“He’s still a bit green, but he will improve further from this race.”

The Australian gelding was seen bustled up by Curatolo at the start to sit in a one-out-one-back position behind Makkem Lad (Alysha Collett) and Salamence (Benny Woodworth), who were both vying for the lead in front.
While Lim’s Lightning was trapped behind a wall of horses on the inside round the home turn at his first run, the $23 second-favourite was peeled out to the outside to make his move this time, before drawing clear for a four-length victory from Makkem Lad.

$19  favourite My Big Boss (Daniel Moor) made up ground late to finish third another half-a-length away. The winning time on the Short Course over 1200m was 1min 10secs.

Winning trainer Steven Burridge was only hoping for luck when the Lim’s Stable-owned gelding drew barrier 13, but thought his previous run in a Novice race had benefitted him.

“Mick Dittman (Lim’s Stable’s racing manager) and myself spoke about it, and we thought he had a bit of ability, so we ran him in a Novice race first-up,” said the Australian handler.

“It’s always good to educate these young horses, and he probably ran a little better than we thought.

“With the wet track and all, we knew the experience would do him a whole lot of good.

“But when the barrier 13 came up, you just have to hope for luck. The horse was still quite green, but Ryan rode him very well.

“If he pulls up well, we will definitely look at the next two Legs of the series.”

The fourth Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series is the $90,000 Inglis Ready2Race Stakes over 1200m which will be held on July 1, and the fifth and final Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series, the $325,000 Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) will take place on July 13.

With that first win, Lim’s Lightning has earned around $64,000 for connections, inclusive of a $10,000 bonus for being an Australian-sired horse bought through the Magic Millions Gold Coast Ready to Run Sale for A$50,000.

Story by Sharon Zhang
15/06/2018

Absolvido overcomes rawness to score second-up

WATCH Replay – Race 4


Top pick Absolvido gave connections and backers some heart flutters in the straight but his raw ability saved the day in the end.

After stumbling out of the gates in the $20,000 Open Maiden race over 1400m, the $18 favourite was dropped to the rear by jockey Glen Boss, whipping the 12-horse field in for most of the way.

The Rip Van Winkle four-year-old did start to improve noticeably from the 500m, but another furlong later, was mired in a big spot of bother.

Absolvido (Glen Boss) charges home to get the money at his second outing.

Absolvido (Glen Boss) charges home to get the money at his second outing.

Not only was Absolvido caught behind a wall of horses, but his greenness and inclination to throw his head around compounded matters further.

Sun Elizabeth (Mohd Zaki) looked all poised to give trainer Hideyuki Takaoka a race-to-race double after $16 favourite Across The Sea earlier won the $45,000 Class 4 Non Premier race over 1100m in the Stewards’ room, but Absolvido had in the meantime finally found a crack in the wall – and certainly looked more tractable.

Without resorting to the whip, Boss pushed the Steven Burridge-trained chestnut right through, steering him to a resounding 1 ¾ length-win from Sun Elizabeth. Ball And Chain (Olivier Placais) stormed home late at massive odds ($264) to take third place another length away.

The winning time was 1min 23.83secs for the 1400m on the Long Course.

“He checked at the start, he clipped heels and I dropped him right back. He was still very green throughout,” said Boss.

“He was like a deer caught in the headlights. He had no idea what was happening, especially in the straight.

“But once he got clear, he was very good.”

Burridge said the yard held a high opinion of the Premier Racing Stable-owned latest recruit, but knew they had to give him a bit of time to mature further.

“This horse showed ability from the start but he was also a slow-maturing sort,” said the Australian trainer.

“His first run was good (closing fifth to Eddie Gray in an Open Maiden race over 1200m on May 6). There was not much point riding him differently as he’s the type of horse who gets back and sprints home late.

“We just had to ride him for luck and it’s paid off. He’ll run a mile easy – and it’s good for Wade (son and head of Premier Racing Stable) to have another winner.”

Absolvido (previously named Rip ‘N’ Run) caught the eye of the Premier Racing boss at a barrier trial in Perth.

“He’s a well-trained individual but still very green, but as you could see from tonight’s win, he’s got lengths on this lot,” said Wade Burridge.

“I didn’t know about him until he trialled at Belmont in Perth. I thought he was a nice horse, and he will probably make the grade here.”

Story by Michael Lee
01/06/2018

Nimitz still at sea, but back all guns blazing

Trainer Steven Burridge couldn’t conceal his delight after the talented but temperamental Nimitz returned to winning ways for new owners on Friday night.

WATCH Replay – Race 4

Last September’s debut winner gave every indication he would be a handy customer to the Australian handler after he went all the way in an Open Maiden race over 1200m, but the rot set in soon afterwards.

The Ready’s Image four-year-old turned into a barrier rogue. At his second run last October, he was sent off the $19 favourite but his pre-race antics behind the gates saw a warning being placed on him.

Burridge sent the naughty gelding back to school, but it would seem he did not quite mend his ways at the five barrier trials he was put through.

Nimitz (Craig Grylls) fends off Wecando (Glen Boss) to claim Race 4.

If he was to show any bellicosity that matched the might of its famous namesake, the US warship, connections would have preferred it was played out in the running – not before.

Unfortunately, Nimitz continued to wreak havoc at the pens, even leaving Burridge’s apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong behind at the gates at one barrier trial on March 22.

But through sheer perseverance, Burridge eventually won the battle. Nimitz ran sixth at his comeback race three weeks ago, but he was better-behaved, and Friday’s all-the-way win in the $60,000 Class 4 Premier race over 1400m was a nice reward to his minders’ patience.

Ridden by Craig Grylls, Nimitz ($35) was scrubbed up early to take up the running from favourite Eastiger (Vlad Duric) with the other well-backed Wecando (Glen Boss) humming along in the box-seat.

The order didn’t change much with the real acid test kicking in inside the last two furlongs. Eastiger had the first crack, but Nimitz was holding the fort well. Wecando took over with 100m to go, and looked a lot more threatening than Eastiger, who had by then given up the fight.

Still, Nimitz would not buckle as he dug deep to repel that second wave of attack to boldly prevail by a head from Wecando with Little Big Man (Nooresh Juglall) running on late for third place another half-length away. The winning time was 1min 22.97secs for the 1400m on the Long Course.

Burridge was a picture of both joy and relief at the winner’s circle, with his son Wade of Premier Racing and new partners of the gelding, the MM Stable, by his side.

“He’s done everything wrong, but tonight he’s done everything right. It’s a great result for his new owners and Wade,” said Burridge.

“He’s been rearing up at the gates, throwing the rider down the back at the trials, but we knew he’s always had ability. He’s just very green.

“He won first-up and beat Lim’s Magic then. He’s had one run for the new owners, but that’s their first win with this horse.”

Grylls said Nimitz was still rough around the edges, but he was on the right path to total redemption.

“He’s still very green. He was hanging out badly the whole straight,” said the Kiwi jockey.

“If he could run straight, he would have won more easily. They were coming hard at him, but I gave him a few cracks behind and he kept on.”

With that second win, Nimitz has now taken his stakes earnings close to the $55,000 mark for the MM & Premier Racing Stable.

Story by Michael Lee
11/05/2018
Michael Rodd

Lim’s Royal redeems himself with slashing win

Trainer Steven Burridge was glad Lim’s Royal redeemed himself with a winning turn in the $80,000 Class 3 Division 2 race over 1400m on Friday night.

WATCH Replay – Race 8

$80,000

Prizemoney

The Australian handler, who has lost a bit of steam after topping the log in the first two months, said that the Rothesay four-year-old had not quite lived up to the lofty hopes connections had built up around him.

Lim’s Royal stamped himself as a handy sort in the making at his first prep with three wins and two thirds from seven starts.

Michael Rodd yells words of encouragement to Lim’s Royal as the winning post looms.

 

But as his ratings soared, he took on better company this year, but his form dipped at his three outings at Class 3 level, leaving Burridge scratching his head, even if they were not dismal failures at all.

Hopes were rekindled at his last run in a Class 3 Division 2 race over 1200m when he was held up for a run under Glen Boss, and still flew home for fourth to Paparazzi, who runs in the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) next Saturday.

Lim’s Royal ($22) was clearly back to his best when he was set alight on a long searching run from the rear by first-time partner Michael Rodd – who is not often seen in the navy blue and yellow silks of the champion owner.

The well-tried Chocolats (Barend Vorster) looked like he would finally land the chocolates at his eighth start when he rocked up at the 300m, but the resuming son of Fastnet Rock was probably undercooked as he soon got the staggers under pressure.

Black Jade (Olivier Placais) and Emergency Acceptor Life Is Gamble (Mohd Zaki) were next to pounce, but they could not match Lim’s Royal’s winning mood return.

That fourth win has now edged Lim’s Royal past the $160,000 mark in prizemoney haul for the Lim’s Stable.

In trying to get to the bottom of that sudden resurgence, Burridge said the rise to seven furlongs might have helped, but he remained guarded in his post-mortem.

“He’s been a bit disappointing this time in. We thought he’d be a nice four-year-old but he hasn’t quite lived up to those expectations,” said Burridge.

“At his last runs, he weakened out, but tonight, he ran well, maybe he liked the step-up to 1400m.

“Anyway, it’s good for the boss (Mr Lim Siah Mong of Lim’s Stable) to get another win. It’s also good for me, too, as I haven’t been winning very often lately.”

The 2010 Singapore champion trainer was the lamplighter till March 4 when his tally read 16 winners on the board. He then hit a speed bump – winning only five more races in the last two and a half months, so much so he has now dropped to sixth place, but still within striking distance (five winners behind) of current leader Shane Baertschiger who is on 26 winners.

Story by Michael Lee
18/05/2018

Burridge backs Black Swan for another hurrah

Black Swan’s charmed run does not seem to end anytime soon, but only nine months ago, trainer Steven Burridge was wondering if he would even win a race one day.

After three seasons and 23 winless runs at Kranji, the son of Sebring had five seconds and three thirds as his best results to show for.

At least the placings did give room for some hope for the Big Valley Stable-owned gelding. That first win finally came in a Class 5 race over 2000m on June 11, 2017 when ridden by Michael Rodd.

Steven Burridge marvels at Black Swan’s meteoric rise.

As the saying goes, it has been onwards and upwards since. In 10 more starts, Black Swan has knocked in four more wins (1600m to 1800m) and four more placings.

From 43 points, he has nearly doubled up his rating to now sit on 81 points, earning 11 points at his last two back-to-back wins, first in Class 3 company, then in a Kranji Stakes B race.

Every time doubters think the Australian-bred five-year-old – who is chestnut and not black – will fail when the bar is raised, he seems to prove them wrong.

Sunday’s $100,000 Kranji Stakes B race over 1600m is the next hurdle, but Burridge has faith in the indisputably most-improved horse in his stable.

“He’s been the success story at the stable, hasn’t he?” said the Australian handler, who himself is enjoying his own success story as the current premiership leader.

“He couldn’t win a race and then he’s won five races and he’s in Class 2 and who knows, he could be my Gold Cup horse later in the year.

“And all that after he had bone chips removed last year followed by a wind op. Patience has paid off.”

The Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) is the country’s premier handicap race run on November 11.

Black Swan, who will again have his last-start winning partner, two-kilo claiming apprentice jockey Noh Senari up, is this week reverting to Polytrack, which Burridge thinks is his preferred surface even if the versatile gelding has won on both.

“It’s a Polytrack race he’s running in again. He seems to handle Polytrack better,” said Burridge who brought up his 700th winner with Chalaza on Sunday.

“I am looking at a Class 2 race over 2000m race in three weeks’ time for him (March 30).”

While Burridge will be pinning his hopes on Black Swan on Sunday, Lim’s Racer may well be the one to help extend his lead on Friday.

The 2016 Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) winner can mix her form, but has overall been a source of satisfaction to connections. The Red Giant mare won well at her last start, a Class 3 race over 1200m going all the way for Burridge’s apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong.

Unfortunately, Kok is suspended for careless riding aboard Dee Dee d’Or this week with Burridge again roping Noh in for the steering duties.

“Simon would have ridden her but he got suspended. I got Noh on instead and he will claim two kilos,” said Burridge.

“She’s a bit up in the weights, but she’s been working well and I expect her to run well again.”

Chalaza hands milestone and lead back to Burridge

WATCH Replay – Race 8

Just when the momentum seemed to be swinging the other way, a timely double from Autumn Rush and Chalaza has propelled trainer Steven Burridge to his 700th Kranji win – and back to the top of the log on Sunday.

The Australian handler has sat atop the trainer’s premiership since January 21. Despite the saying it is easier to reach the top than stay there, he has done a good job keeping a gaggle of trainers like Michael Clements, Shane Baertschiger and 2017 champion Mark Walker at bay all this while, until Clements unseated him with a hat-trick of wins on Friday.

But Burridge has turned the tide right back up, responding with a two-timer from two of his better-performed horses this season, while achieving a personal milestone for good measure.

Chalaza (Ryan Curatolo, No 8) strikes a late blow to claim the Class 2 race on Sunday.

After Autumn Rush (Simon Kok Wei Hoong) edged the former jockey one win closer to the 700 landmark, the one that mattered came off two races later with Chalaza (Ryan Curatolo) in the $100,000 Class 2 race over 1400m.

The Road To Rock five-year-old is not without ability, as his record of four wins and four placings from 14 starts suggested, but the Mark Walker duo of Elite Invincible and Kingsman looked hard to beat, not to mention resuming quality gallopers Arhat and Mr Fatkid, though ideally, they were warming up for longer assignments down the road.

Under the circumstances, Chalaza’s odds of $42 looked reasonable, but deep down, Burridge knew he could turn milestone provider with a bit of luck.

Which Chalaza lacked in spades at his last outing, when he kept running into dead ends and never had a decent crack at the winner Tannhauser in a similar Class 2 event over 1200m.

Curatolo, by his own admission, later said it was not one of his better rides. Keen to give himself a good buffer of wins before he heads out for a two-day ban (careless riding), the French jockey redeemed himself with an inch-perfect ride that saw Chalaza find daylight at the right time before sustaining a searching run to the line.

Chalaza went on to post a half-length victory from the fast-closing Kingsman (Mohd Firdaus) with $13 favourite Elite Invincible (Glen Boss) third another short head away. The winning time was 1min 22.66secs for the 1400m on the Long Course.

Walker’s redoubtable duo had every chance, but were just outsprinted fair and square by a better horse on the day, 4kgs pull in weights between the winner and Elite Invincible notwithstanding. Kingsman had 51.5kgs on his back.

Burridge, the Singapore champion trainer in 2010, was all smiles as he celebrated his latest accolade with connections. He was also presented with a bottle of champagne by fellow Kranji trainer Leslie Khoo on behalf of the Association of Racehorse Trainers (Singapore).

“It’s sensational to reach this landmark. Thank you to all my owners for their support and also the stable staff for their amazing help at the stable,” said the Australian handler (16 wins) who was also claiming back the yellow jersey back after temporarily handing the lead to hat-trick hero Michael Clements (15 wins) on Friday night.

“I can’t do it on my own. Let’s hope it keeps going.

“This horse handles the wet track quite well, but more importantly, he has to be ridden quiet.

“We tried to wind him up early before and it does not work. He couldn’t finish it off.

“It’s good to get another winner for the boss, Mr Lim (Siah Mong of Lim’s & Mark’s Stable) who has been a great supporter of mine.”

Chalaza has now brought his record to five wins and four placings from 15 starts for prizemoney in excess of the $240,000 mark for connections.

Curatolo was certainly glad he had reunited successfully with Chalaza, as before the luckless run that many thought they were the certainty beaten, the pair had combined to win more or less in the same fashion on January 19.

“I have a good affinity with this horse as I know him very well, but I rode him badly at his last start,” he said.

“I could not get out, but today, when he saw daylight, he just opened up and won a nice race. He’s a horse you need to ride cold, he doesn’t like to be contacted with other horses.

“At the start, I was happy where I was, but I had to take hold of him a few times at the half-mile as he was climbing over heels in behind horse. I had to pop him off as I didn’t want to find myself too far back.

“He improved around horses very nicely, but once we were in the straight, I made sure I didn’t hit him too often. One just to get him to wake up, and I waited and waited before I gave him another smack.

“He’s got a short burst and you have to time his run well. It’s great I won today as I am suspended for the next two meetings.

“I wished I had won two, but Arr Flair just got beaten a nose (by Jacks Secret in Race 3). But three winners for the weekend is not too bad.”

Curatolo rode a double on Friday aboard Lord O’Reilly and Yabadabadoo, and sits in third place on 14 winners, two behind leader Vlad Duric.

Kok in a Rush for better things

The kudos continue to pour in for young apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong after he booted home his first riding double on Sunday.

WATCH replay Race 6

The Ipoh-born 22-year-old only began his fledgling riding career on January 23, riding a winner at his very first day at school – aboard Autumn Rush for his boss Steven Burridge at only his second ride.

It is that same Autumn Rush who has now handed the dressage-trained jockey another milestone on Sunday – his first brace after earlier scoring aboard the Mohd Yusof-trained Joyous.

Autumn Rush (Kok Wei Hoong) storms home to post a brilliant win in Race 6.

Interestingly, Autumn Rush’s three-quarter-length win in the $80,000 Class 3 race over 1000m, was the first come-from-behind win for Kok. His first three wins all came from the front.

While such diversity in riding styles always helps in steering clear of any “one-trick pony” label for any rider, senior or junior, Kok modestly attributed the win to his boss’s instructions.

“I’m very happy to get a second win today. The first earlier win in a Class 5 race over 1600m was a different experience and it worked out well,” said Kok.

“Autumn Rush ran very well again, and he also gave me my first win. I am very grateful to my boss and the owners for letting me ride such a good horse.

“There was a fast pace to the race and I just wanted to think positive, jump him well and tuck him in behind the speed, and he ran on at the right time to win the race.”

From barrier No 11, the Keano five-year-old actually did not “tuck in” so well, but even though he was trapped three to four wide the whole trip, he did get a semblance of cover behind Silkino (Ryan Curatolo).

But his salvation came from the helter-skelter rush to the front with five horses scrambling for the coveted spot for the first half of the scamper. The relentless pace probably enabled Autumn Rush ($87) to settle quite relaxed about four lengths astern.

Inevitably, those who had worn themselves out upfront could not quite go on with the job. Leader Dragon Spirit (Chin See Cheng) and former Group 3 Juvenile Championship winner Mystic Master (Alan Munro) were the first to show the white flag, a scenario which would lean towards the one expected by the vast majority – odds-on favourite Filibuster (Michael Rodd) sending her rivals packing as she came poking her head through the pack at the 300m.

But the $7 hotpot, who also raced deep from an awkward alley, sent out distress signals instead. Rodd got stuck into the previously unbeaten filly, but she was as flat as a pancake.

Mokastar (Barend Vorster), on the other hand, was looking the goods for Ricardo Le Grange (starved of a win since Nowyousee on February 4) when he hit the front, but it proved insufficient when Autumn Rush sling shot his way from midfield to land the spoils with half-a-length to spare from Mokastar.

Yulong Fast Steed (Vlad Duric) flew from the ruck to finish third another 1 ½ lengths away. The winning time was 59.59 seconds for the 1000m on the Polytrack.

“He’s a honest horse, but can be a bit awkward. Today I told the kid to ride him quiet as I thought they would go mad in front, and he also drew wide,” said the Australian handler, who was incidentally reclaiming the lead from Michael Clements (Friday hat-trick saw the Zimbabwean-born handler wrest the lead) with that win.

“He also picked up 10 points after his last win, which I thought was a bit harsh, but Simon rode him a treat. He’s certainly going well the lad.”

With that fourth win, Autumn Rush has now seen his stakes earnings snowball past the $180,000 mark for the EZ Stable.