By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Champion jockey Vlad Duric showed he meant business when he got on the scoresheet at only his second booking to his riding comeback on Saturday.
Sidelined through suspension and a throat issue at the first four meetings in the 2021 season, the four-time Singapore champion jockey was clearly in a mood to make up for lost time from his very first ride when he finished a close third aboard Hwasong in the opener.
After that warm-up, Duric got right on the mark in the very next race, the $75,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1400m, astride the aptly-named Prosperous Return.
An enterprising ride from the champ saw the Fighting Sun three-year-old overcome a wide alley to tuck into a perfect rails-hugging run behind favourite Real Efecto (John Sundradas).
With Duric able to give Prosperous Return ($24) a nice breather midrace, the race looked all stitched up when he was peeled to the outside of Real Efecto upon straightening, looking full of running.
Under the Australian hoop’s trademark whip urgings, Prosperous Return held sway with a half-length margin but was soon seen begging for the line when Ironprince (Wong Chin Chuen) came steaming home right on the outside at the eleventh hour.
It was a close call but Duric could get his bid for a fifth consecutive crown underway with the photo print giving Prosperous Return the verdict by a nose from Ironprince. After doing all the bullocking work in front, Real Efecto stuck on well to finish third another half-length away.
The winning time was 1min 24.39secs for the 1400m on the Long Course.
“It’s good to be back. This horse is very good, he has a good head,” said Duric.
“He came back relaxed under me. He’s looking for a mile and up to 1800m, he’s tough.”
Michael Clements’ assistant-trainer Michael White was certainly not surprised by the winning turn second-up from his debut sixth in a Novice race over 1200m a fortnight ago.
“He ran in a hot Novice with horses like Starlight and Be You. He was caught wide, but he went really good,” said the Australian.
“The run was better than it looked on paper considering he wants 1400m and longer. The barrier was a worry today, but Vlad rode him positive.
“He had the other horse on his back, but he held on well. He’s still pretty raw, the more racing he gets, the better he will get.
“This win was no fluke. Had he drawn a barrier, we would have been more confident.
“Peter Twomey bought this horse for the Tivic Stable, who seems to have some nice horses.”
The Tivic Stable is of course better remembered for former Singapore Horse of the Year Stepitup, but has since raced other smart sorts like the late Bold Thruster and Heartening Flyer with Clements.
The Singapore champion trainer went on to score a race-to-race double in the $50,000 Class 4 Division 2 race (1100m) with even-money favourite Tuesday winning in record-breaking time.
Ridden by Juan Paul van der Merwe, the Deep Field three-year-old shaved off 0.09 second from Altair’s previous course record of 1min 03.76secs in his 4 ½-length demolition of the field.
Following that early brace, Clements made it three later in the $20,000 Open Maiden race over 1000m with new English import Kassab (x Exceed And Excel) who, incidentally, handed Duric a riding double.
The win from the $12 favourite raced by Kuwaiti outfit Al Rashid stable cements Clements’ first place on the Singapore trainers’ premiership on eight winners four clear of Lee Freedman.
The score could have been better for both Clements and Duric with their best chance of the day, Knight Love, in the last race, the $50,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over 1100m, but the US-bred four-year-old by Shanghai Bobby petered out of the race after moving up before the home turn to finish a disappointing ninth.
The race saw $242 smokie Super Power land a boilover win for trainer Alwin Tan and apprentice jockey Mohammad Nizar, foiling the fast-finishing Romantic (Oscar Chavez) by a head.
The Power six-year-old clocked 1min 4.57secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack, and has now chalked up a handy record of four wins and four placings in 26 starts for stakes earnings closing in on the $190,000 mark for the Number One Stable. It also marked Tan’s 501st win after he brought up the half-tonne milestone after a long spell with The Archer on January 16.