Aero Wings Junior gets Khoo to a flying start

IN FULL FLIGHT: Jockey Mohd Zaki guiding the Leslie Khoo-trained Aero Wings Junior to win the first race of the 2015 season at Kranji on Thursday.

The honour of kicking off the New Year with the first Singapore 2015 winner went the way of trainer Leslie Khoo and jockey Mohd Zaki with race-favourite AERO WINGS JUNIOR opening the new season with an easy win in the $38,000 Welcome 2015 Stakes, a Kranji Stakes D Division 3 race over 1,200m on the Polytrack, on Thursday.

Khoo (above), who had a moderate year in 2014 with 36 winners - a far cry from his best haul ever of 66 wins in 2011 when he was runner-up to Patrick Shaw - was delighted at pulling the winning ticket to the curtain-raiser for the first time, a sign he hoped would bring up the dawn of a much better season which will be his seventh at Kranji in 2015.

Aero Wings Junior's win was not just a brand new start for the trainer. The Empire Stable-owned galloper was having his first run for Khoo, following a transfer from trainer Steven Lam, for whom he raced nine times without success.

Khoo played down his role in getting a maiden win out of the four-year-old son of Hold That Tiger, saying he just had to watch his last runs on TV to more or less suss out what he had under the bonnet.

"He was checked at his last run and ran fourth. Otherwise, he would have won," said the former top jockey, who is at his 13th year as a trainer, beginning his trade in Ipoh in the first six years.

"I'm just lucky I got him at the right time and I'm glad for the owners they got a win out of him.

""I told Zaki only one thing before the race. Don't go to the front, hold him back in second or third, as he can a bit too keen even with the blinkers on.

"He trialled very well last week and I was expecting a good run today and he didn't disappoint. I won the first race of the new season and, hopefully, there will be more to come."