By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Oscar Chavez jumps back in the saddle this weekend.
The Panamanian jockey has not been sighted on a Kranji racecard since he was stood down from all his riding engagements on February 13.
The popular rider has been building up a handy momentum at his riding comeback from a three-year absence, having already won three races (In All His Glory, Gold Kingdom and Metal World), but turning handyman for a day proved to be costly.
The 46-year-old hurt his left thumb while fixing a fence in his backyard. Unfortunately, the finger was fractured and necessitated the insertion of a steel rod by an orthopaedic surgeon, and a minimum of two months of rest.
“It was a freak accident. It couldn’t have come at a worse moment, my horses were coming to form,” said Chavez.
“One of my rides won that day I was stood down, Ricvelo (with replacement rider Louis-Philippe Beuzelin up). It’s been frustrating being at home, especially after I just came back after so long.
“I have to start from scratch, but eight weeks is nothing compared to three years. My doctor cleared me the week before and I had my first trackwork ride last Monday (March 29).”
Chavez said he was approached for rides at the just-concluded meeting on April 4, but he elected to pass them up to allow himself a little more time to work on his fitness levels.
“I wanted to take another week to get fitter. My finger is fine, it doesn’t hurt anymore,” he said.
“I kept my book to six rides this week just so I can get back into it without rushing. I think six rides is okay considering I’m a freelance now.
“Last time when Cliff (Brown) was still around, I didn’t have to go from stable to stable to chase for rides, but it’s okay. I’ve done it before.”
Chavez has singled out Michael Clements’ recent stable transfer Trumpy as his best chance, even if he is not making the Argentinian-bred five-year-old – who had yet to place in eight starts for Brown – a sure thing in the $70,000 Class 3 race over 1600m on turf.
“Trumpy trialled well last week (ran second to Bright Almighty on March 30). He’s down in class,” he said.
“It’s not an easy race. He hasn’t proven himself yet, but he did run a nice fourth (to Big Hearted) in the Gold Cup last year.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked of him in trackwork. I hope he performs well first-up over 1600m.
“He’ll get better over more ground.”
Known as Es Sicario in Argentina, Trumpy was bought as a Singapore Gold Cup prospect by local owners Elvin Racing Stable on the basis of his strong staying credentials.
The son of Lizard Island has won over a variety of distances – 1400m, 1600m (twice), 1800m (twice), 2000m and 2500m – in Argentina