Nunes itching to get back into action
Three-time Singapore champion jockey Manoel Nunes is chomping at the bit as he counts down towards next Friday.
The Brazilian rider is currently serving two consecutive careless riding suspensions of three weeks each (Distinctive Darci and Alfonso) - he was also slapped with a $2,000 fine apiece - and can only resume race-riding next Friday.
While he has been keeping himself busy at trackwork - to maintain his fitness levels and trim the bulge that grew during the short December break in Brazil - Nunes, who has the unenviable tag of being one of the stewards' room most frequent visitors, is no doubt gnashing his teeth when he watches the races from home.
"It's very frustrating. Some of my rides have won, but there's nothing I can do about it," he said. "But I can only look forward and not dwell on the past. It's very competitive out there, but I must try my best to avoid going in front of the stewards this year.
"Rules are rules and you have to abide by them. I can only keep working hard and, hopefully, I won't have too much to catch up when I come back.
"It sure will be harder but I always like a challenge. It makes you work harder."
Nunes would take some solace in the fact that no jockey has broken away from the pack on the Singapore jockey's premiership this year.
After four meetings, the pie has been fairly evenly split with Nooresh Juglall on top on five wins with a blanket that can be thrown over another eight riders on either four, three or two winners.
In the meantime, he can only gear up the rides awaiting him at his comeback, with one of his pet horses being Nova Swiss, whom he rode in a barrier trial on Tuesday, the first time since the last of their unbeaten streak of four wins on Nov 25.
The Swiss Ace three-year-old ambled along in midfield to finish fourth behind Wimbledon but Nunes said the horse was still not 100 per cent fit and he didn't want to push the horse since it was his first trial after a rest.
Champion trainer Alwin Tan has mapped out an ambitious overseas plan for Nova Swiss, along with Irish newcomer Senator and Conflight, targeting the trio towards the US$2 million (S$2.87 million) Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen over 1,200m at Meydan on March 25.
"Yes, Alwin wants to run Nova Swiss in Dubai. He's also got Senator who is also a nice horse, and Conflight," said Nunes.
"It'll be interesting to see how they come along. For now, I'll just take in their local races, one race at a time before thinking about Dubai."
Cardinal set for a hat-trick
South Africa (Fairview) previews
RACE 1 (1,000M)
(1) VARONELLA may have found 1,200m on the turf a touch too far but he only tired very late when fourth in his latest start. This Var gelding was most unlucky not to win his previous start and this course and distance could make him hard to beat, providing he gets an aggressive front-running ride.
(2) BATTERSEA BRIDGE and (3) BLUE CASTLE are capable of running well over this trip.
RACE 2 (1,000M)
(1) CARDINAL has done well to win his last two starts and has a chance for a hat-trick but he will be giving weight away to all his rivals.
(2) LAND OF MEADOWS is not completely out of it.
(9) ROGUE RUNNER is in very good form but his rider will need to overcome a terrible draw.
(10) PONT DU GARD and (11) ORIENTAL TIGER are in with a shot of winning.
(14) FIRE HORSE deserves respect.
RACE 3 (1,300M)
(1) DANCE IN THE WOODS has won the last two times she has raced over this course and distance and has every chance of making it three. Jockey Gavin Lerena is riding many winners and could get her home in front.
(2) ASHWAL and (3) HONEST ALLY have won this season and are capable of earning money.
(4) SEATTLE BURNING disappointed in her latest start when finding betting support but can win.
RACE 4 (1,300M)
(1) SILKEN SUMMER showed nice improvement in her local debut. It is a different case today however as she is badly drawn and she tastes the Polytrack for the first time in a race.
(3) WICKED LADY JANE is improving and could be the one to beat provided her terrible draw does not play a part.
(4) HELEN'S BAY, (5) RING O' VAR, (6) HIDDEN GEM and (7) OLI MIRANDA are in with a winning chance.
RACE 5 (1,900M)
Very few in this race can be ruled out from winning.
(3) DREAMFOREST has won four of his last five starts but is definitely a lot better over a bit further than this but he can win.
(4) SCENT has held his form well in this yard and should fight it out again.
(6) GRAPE VINE has not won for some time but is clearly not out of it.
(7) MASTER JAMES and (8) GLOBAL EXPRESS deserve some respect.
RACE 6 (1,900M)
(1) MATADOR IN RED looks to be regaining his best form but is badly drawn.
(4) ROCKY STALLONE could earn a cheque in this.
(5) OFF TO GAUL is doing well and has Gavin Lerena aboard.
(6) MAN OF THE CLOTH is better than his last run and does like this surface.
(8) FLAMING ACE has not won in ages but could finish in the money.
(9) CAPTAIN'S VISTA is well drawn and should run very well.
RACE 7 (1,600M)
(1) JUST LIKE MAGIC has improved recent form and is sure to be in the shake-up again.
(4) WITHOUT PERMISSION has a high merit-rating for what he has recently done but must be considered.
(5) CAPTAIN DISKO and (6) CHESTNUT'S CHAMP have form that could see them be competitive.
The three-year-olds though, (7) GIMME THE STARS and (8) EN GEE OH, could be the ones to fight out the finish.
RACE 8 (1,300M)
(1) O TAMARA was not disgraced in Cape Town in her latest start and is clearly a lot better than her previous run would suggest and could bounce back to her winning ways.
(2) STAR BURST GALAXY probably found the 1,600m beyond her last time out and will do better at this distance.
(5) VICTORIA COLLEGE could never get on terms with (6) LEOPARD ORCHID last time out but could reverse that form.