Winning star makes peace with his backers
EXCITING START: Winning Star (N Juglall astride) staving off Ravoux in the first race at Kranji yesterday.
They called for the print of the photo-finish but WINNING STAR wasn't going to be denied the chance to atone for his expensive failure of Aug 17.
The nice-looking four-year-old had it sealed and delivered with an all-the-way win in the opening event at Kranji last night - but not before looking like he wuld have to play bridesmaid.
Ridden a confident race by Nooresh Juglall, the Leslie Khoo-trained galloper just lasted it out to beat the third pick, RAVOUX, by a head in the Australia Stakes for Class 5 Div 1 horses.
Although Winning Star had, on Aug 1, put a win on the board with a come-from-midfield victory over the mile, he really showed us last night that he was very much at ease - and definitely appreciative - over the shorter 1,400m
Indeed, had the race been run over the 1,410m, Manoel Nunes - on board Ravoux - would have been celebrating his 200th Kranji winner.
Incidentally, that milestone would be reached 90 minutes later when AL VALORE made it a winning debut in Race 4.
But we know what happened in Race 1. Juglall, showing the form and temperament that has seen him notching up 20 winners in his short stint here, lifted Winning Star over the line to reward his backers with a surprisingly healthy $18 win dividend.
Out of the gates like a hound from hell, Winning Star soon opened a break on Ravoux who, in turn, showed the likes of Aratiatia (Corey Brown) and and Sugartime Jazz the way to that sweeping turn which brought the field to the top of the straight.
It was still Winning Star with 250m to travel. But anyone holding win tickets on Juglall's mount must have felt their heart skip a beat when Rovoux began to toss in a serious challenge.
With the finish looming up and Ravoux still a length to make up, Nunes switched the persuader form his left to his right.
For a moment, it looked like a winning move as the seven-year-old from Stephen Gray's yard found his second wind.
Alas, it was a little to late.
Juglall, nursed his mount to the line - squeezing out every bit that the youngster could offer.
As far as his supporters were concerned, if you listened hard enough you have heard them let out a collective sigh of relief. Counting their winnings would have come later.
Sugartime Jazz, the mount of Oscar Chavez, came on to hold on third spot in what was a good opener to a night which celebrated all things Australian.
- BRIAN MILLER