Duric keen to make up for lost time

Vlad Duric

By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club

Reigning Singapore champion jockey Vlad Duric is ready to throw down the gauntlet as his 2021 season finally gets underway this Saturday after being delayed by suspension and health niggles.

The Australian veteran rider is under no illusions giving his rivals such a big start – four meetings – is a deficit that won’t be easy to make up, but the typically composed hoop’s self-belief has always been one of his main strengths.

The 43-year-old assured that Ruan Maia’s shock early exit from Kranji had not put a new spring in his step.

Special Ops brought up Vlad Duric’s 65th and last winner for 2020 on December 19.

Knockers might argue Duric has already been served a fifth consecutive title on a platter after the talented and younger Brazilian jockey, his runner-up from last season (only three winners separated them) and early leader on eight winners this year, put himself out of the running when he accepted an invitation to ride in Hong Kong from March 1.

But Duric begs to differ. To him, the only one he is riding against is himself.

“It makes no difference Ruan has left. I only focus on my own rides,” said Duric who is booked for seven rides at his comeback meeting.

“I’ve always had someone to push me during my career here. First, it was Joao Moreira (2010-2011), then Manoel Nunes (2016-2017), followed by Michael Rodd (2018), Benny Woodworth (2019) and last year it was Maia.

“It’s important to have people like them to elevate you, to make you strive to be competitive. Ruan may have left, but there are other guys who will step up.

“CC (Chin Chuen) Wong is doing very well in this early part of the season, Simon Kok (Wei Hoong) will be back soon (after missing the whole of January following his stay in Ipoh to be by his ailing grandfather’s bedside, including a two-week quarantine), and Louis Beuzelin.

“I’ll just focus on myself and my goal which is to keep having success for my clients and myself, and hopefully, I’ll have a better year ahead.”

Duric may have four titles to his name but 2020 was by far the least clear-cut. Some even wonder how Maia, who wielded the greater momentum in the second half, didn’t claim his scalp, but the two-time Macau champion jockey was also done in by a few off-weeks of his own.

The climb back to the top might not happen overnight, but the Victorian is above all happy to be back sooner rather than later.

“My throat seems a lot better. I’ve stopped taking medication since Thursday,” said Duric who has finally got round to get a recurring throat irritation fixed early this year.

“I took things easy this week, just freshened up. I rode at the trials on Tuesday and I’ll go for a few gallops tomorrow.

“I’ve not been feeling great about the long break with the suspension (two weeks for careless riding) and the throat issue. It’s been stop-and-start, but I’m keen to get back this Saturday, build up some momentum and get back into some consistency.

“Knight Love looks like a nice horse in the last race, but I’ve also got other horses like Kassab, who’s a really good chance in the Open Maiden.

“Actually, all my rides have some sort of chance. Hopefully, I can get a win and hit the ground running.”

Duric takes three other rides for Stephen Gray, Hwasong, St Alwyn and Silkardo, another one for Clements besides Knight Love and Kassab, Prosperous Return and one for Cliff Brown, Threeandfourpence.

Author: iRace