Via Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Former three-time Singapore champion jockey Manoel Nunes turned back the clock with a winner at his Kranji comeback, amazingly in the same red and silver stars silks he donned at his farewell salute on December 3, 2017.
The Brazilian ace then won the Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes (1700m) with Nova Strike in those Nova Stable Racing colours, bowing out at his last Kranji meeting in the best possible way.
Less than two years later, Nova’s Limited Edition’s win might not have come in a prestigious feature race this time, just a modest $50,000 Class 4 Division 2 race over 1200m, named the Super Ninetyseven 2013 Stakes, but Nunes was just as ecstatic. “I’m very happy to come back here and be able to ride a winner, more so when it’s (new trainer) Jason’s (Ong) second winner,” said Nunes.
Currently the leading jockey in Mauritius, Nunes left Kranji at the end of the 2017 season after five highly-successful seasons where he claimed the title from 2014 to 2016.
The 43-year-old jockey, who also has six Macau champion jockey titles to his name, has returned to his old hunting ground for just a hit-and-run visit, largely thanks to Singaporean owner Joe Singh who has hired him for the plum ride aboard Countofmontecristo in the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1600m).
A jockey who commanded big books of rides during his wonder years at Kranji, Nunes didn’t have to whip out his phone to pick up four other rides on the undercard when news came through he would be back on our shores.
After the first two, Elena Of Avalor and Lago De Como, ran out of the placings, Limited Edition ($16) sealed the return of the former Kranji kingpin with a typical Nunes polish.
Taking a drop in fourth place as a line of three made up of Eastiger (Michael Rodd), Hyde Park (Ben Thompson) and Grand Choice (Benny Woodworth) vied for the lead, Nunes had the race all stitched up the moment he brought Limited Edition into the clear at the 400m, coming up with his trademark opening of reins to get his mounts balanced up and switching onto the right leg before going for the kill.
Limited Edition went on to score with half-a-length to spare from Eastiger with Silent Force (Simon Kok Wei Hoong) dashing home late for third place another short head away. The winning time was just a tick under 1min 10secs for the 1200m on the Short Course.
Ong, who took over retired New Zealand trainer Bruce Marsh on Monday and pounced straight off the starting blocks with a winner at his very first runner, Sothistheone, on Friday night, could not have dreamed of a more sterling first couple of days at the office.
“It’s a good start. We expected this horse to run well and Nunes rode a good race,” said Ong.
“At his second run, he raced wide from a wide barrier and we stepped him up to 1400m. I decided to take him back to basics to 1200m and it’s paid off.
“It’s also a big plus to have Nunes riding for us.”
Nunes, who is not only valued for his riding skills, but also for his horsemanship, which again came to the fore during his post-race appraisal, will no doubt be heeded by Ong.
“I had a beautiful run right through,” he said of his 497th Singapore winner.
“He’s still green but I don’t think he needs any new gear.”