Sports

Above De Pinnacle gives Nunes his 100th winner

MAGICAL CENTURY: Leading jockey Manoel Nunes steering Above De Pinnacle (above) to fend off the late-closing Falcon in Race 2 for his 100th winner of the season. He went on to take Race 5 on Sacred Spin. TNP PHOTO: PHYLLICIA WANG

Leading jockey Manoel Nunes arrived at the Singapore Racecourse yesterday thinking he would have to wait for another day to punch home his 100th Kranji winner for the season.

He was not optimistic from his book of seven rides but, when the skies opened before the start of the twilight meeting, it raised his hopes somewhat.

Notching his magical century yesterday was extra sweet and meaningful as it was his wife Alessandra's birthday.

Nunes (above), who finished second last year with 112 winners behind fellow Brazilian Joao Moreira (179 winners) in the jockeys' premiership, came close in the first race aboard outsider Mala Mala.

His Mark Walker-trained mount charged home in the Maiden Div 2 event over 1,400m on the yielding track but front-runner JUST THE TIP (apprentice TR Barnabas) held on tenaciously to win by half a length.

NO MISTAKE

Nunes made no mistake in the next race aboard the Desmond Koh-trained ABOVE DE PINNACLE, who led all the way in the Initiation event over 1,200m to pay $22 for a win.

It was a good tactical ride by Nunes, who whacked his mount to the front to be about four lengths from Sandy Might on settling down.

Once his mount had momentum, he eased the speed a bit, which allowed Sandy Might to come within a length.

He got going again on straightening. Sandy Might was gone. Newcomer-cum-favourite Bhaskara charged up at the 300m mark but could not get past.

Falcon swooped home late but Above De Pinnacle held on to win by a neck.

Said Nunes: "I came to the races tonight and I said 'well, my card doesn't look well' but when I saw the rain, I said maybe there's a big change.

"Today is my wife's birthday, so I told her any race I ride, I will get for you, so I am to happy win this race. So, happy birthday to her."

On Above De Pinnacle, who ran sixth in his debut with apprentice Tengku Rehaizat astride, he said: "He's a little bit lazy, you know. He didn't break very well and I had to use the whip, wake him up and put him there.

"When he got the lead, I just controlled the pace and he got the job done."

For good measure, Nunes rode his 101st winner aboard the Walker-trained $28 chance SACRED SPIN in Race 5.

He was second by a mere neck on Wimbledon in Race 3.