By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Royal Pavilion came with a withering burst to take out Saturday’s $50,000 Class 4 race over 1800m and hand jockey Shafrizal Saleh a belated 33rd birthday.
The Penang-born rider celebrated his big day last Saturday, but his two Kranji rides that day, Prosperous Return and Resolution, both for his former master Michael Clements, failed to bring any happy returns.
One week later, Clements more than made up for it by putting Shafrizal on a winner in Royal Pavilion, and the newly-promoted senior jockey sure didn’t let the opportunity go begging following a patient ride at the rear.
Settled ahead of only a couple of runners in the race, the Casino Prince five-year-old exploded away once he was angled to the outside as he went through a gap between Luck Of Master (Noh Senari) and Global Kid (Matthew Kellady) at the top of the straight.
While inclined to hang in, the Tivic Stable-owned gelding asserted his clear superiority inside the last furlong to beat favourite Special Ops (John Powell) by 1 ¼ lengths with Wind Trail (Marc Lerner) another three parts of a length away. The winning time was 1min 48.46secs for the 1800m, a trip Royal Pavilion was tackling for the first time.
But Shafrizal, who has partnered the $58 shot at his last three starts, including at his last win in a Class 4 race over the turf mile two runs back on November 2, was bullish about a successful outcome.
“When he won over 1600m, I told Chopsy (assistant-trainer Michael White) he can go longer. He’s got big strides,” said Shafrizal.
“He was hanging in once I passed the other horses, but that’s what he always does. I couldn’t ride a winner last week, but I’ll take this as my birthday present!”
While Shafrizal is not indentured to Clements anymore, he’s still on the payroll of the champion trainer yard, and one staff White has a lot of time for.
“Shafrizal rides great. He’s been riding terrific without winning many races,” said the Australian, deputising for Clements.
“It’s good for him as he rides a lot better than what his record suggests. It’s just circumstances or whatever reasons that have worked against him.
“Today’s win was no fluke. He’s done it tough with the lockdown being a Malaysian and having to stay here as he has a young family back home, but he’s never complained.
“As for Royal Pavilion, we always thought he would be a get-back Polytrack type of horse, and today, he won over 1800m. Horses do make us look silly in a good way at times.
“We’ve kept raising the bar and he’s always jumped it. He’s a promising young horse for the Tivic Stable.”
Royal Pavilion has now amassed around $170,000 in stakes for the Tivic Stable of Mr Thomas Loke courtesy of a handy record that now stands at five wins, two seconds and four thirds from 27 start.