Sports

Apprentice Noh strikes on Intense Gold

CLOSE CALL: Intense Gold (S Noh) staving off Mighty Glory (centre) and Smart Lad (outside) in Race 2.

Apprentice Noh Senari's charge towards his first-ever premiership title continues to gather momentum as he drove INTENSE GOLD to victory in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1,400m in Race 2 last night.

The Irish-bred gelding, racing handily for the best part of the trip, scored a fighting victory in a tight finish over Mighty Glory (Nooresh Juglall) by a neck.

FAVOURITE

The favourite Smart Lad (A'Isisuhairi Kasim) was third, a head away.

The winning time on the short course was 1min 22.70sec.

It continued a frustrating start to the nine-race night meeting for A'Isisuhairi, last year's champion apprentice.

The Kelantan-born rider had been on the favourites for the opening two races and looked poised to collect his landmark 100th Kranji winner, but had to settle for placings in both.

With just a solitary winner picked up on the final day in August, he leads the standings with 25 winners.

But he has seen his advantage slashed in recent weeks by his nearest rival Noh, who had topped the table for much of 2014 before a nine-raceday suspension halted his progress.

But the Singaporean rookie has looked revitalised in the past few months and attributed his recent rich vein of form to his improved fitness, while his obsession for the apprentice title has also played its part.

This was his fifth victory in the past three weeks and he has now collected 23 winners this term, drawing to within two wins of A'Isisuhairi.

"Things got a bit slow for me when I came back from that long suspension," said Noh, who is indentured to trainer Michael Freedman.

"It took me a while to regroup and start winning again but I never lost faith in myself.

"My boss has supported me 100 per cent during this period and he's always willing to give me advice. That's the most important thing, to have someone who is willing to help you and offer you good advice."

Besides playing a variety of sports to keep himself in shape, Noh has also taken up jogging religiously, clocking at least 7km every day to ensure he is at his physical peak.

WORKING HARD

"I'm doing my best to keep my weight as light as I can. It's just about working hard as there are only a few more months left to the season and I really want to win the premiership this year."

His determination paid off as he was able to drive the Cliff Brown-trained Intense Gold ($59) across the winning post, despite some intense pressure from Mighty Glory and Smart Lad as the three gallopers were locked in a furious battle down the home straight.

"I just followed the instructions and sat third or fourth in the early stages and kept my eye on Smart Lad, who I knew was going to be a tough horse to beat," said Noh.

With Brown due to arrive at the Singapore Turf Club only later in the evening, it was left to assistant trainer Tim Fitzsimmons to oversee their first runner of the meeting and he was delighted with the effort from Noh, who was partnering the Gold Stable-owned galloper for the first time.

"Great ride by the boy, 10 out of 10," he said.

"The horse has been a bit unlucky with the barriers but has been thereabouts. He's matured a bit as well and the winkers definitely helped."

Intense Gold has amassed about $90,000 for his connections.