Racing

Nunes moves up to third spot

Champion jockey wins four races in a row

Champion jockey Manoel Nunes showed that class never dies when he won on his first four of eight rides on Sunday.

His mount in Race 7, the fancied Toliman, was withdrawn after diving under the front of his barrier, resulting in his saddle becoming detached.

In 11th spot on nine winners before Friday's meeting, Nunes has leapfrogged no fewer than eight jockeys to catapult to third spot after Sunday's races with 14 winners on the Singapore jockey's premiership - a place he was more familiar with in the last three seasons.

Indeed, after claiming his third consecutive title last year, the Brazilian jockey went through a noticeable slump this year. No doubt, suspensions incurred last year did account partially for the slow start, but things did not really pick up even after he came back

A change in the support dynamics was probably the main reason behind the sluggish start. Gone were the days when Nunes commanded the picks of the rides week in, week out, not to mention the slight drop in the backing from leading trainer Mark Walker, who is not putting all his eggs in one basket this year, with Shafiq Rizuan the biggest beneficiary.

Nunes had to adapt, and through dint of hard work, the level of support has gradually picked up, and so did the wins.

But, on Sunday, he really exploded onto the scene in a way that harked back to his halcyon years.

After opening the haul with the Bruce Marsh-trained outsider DARCI'S BOY, Nunes went on to add three more wins in quick succession between Race 4 and 6 - PURE JUSTICE, DESTINY KNIGHT and RICH FORTUNE.

The Mark Walker-trained Pure Justice and the Stephen Gray-trained Destiny Knight had only lukewarm support, and Nunes had to pull out all the stops in the concluding stages to gain the verdict in the $38,000 Kranji Stakes D Division 2 race over 1,200m and $35,000 Class 5 race over 1,800m respectively.

Pure Justice paid $ 41 for a win and Destiny Knight $39.

The Alwin Tan-trained Rich Fortune had a lot more admirers, jumping as the $15 favourite in the $60,000 Class 4 Division 2 race over the Polytrack 1,100m. But, again, it was Nunes' savoir-faire that won the day - and kept his hot run going.

"Competition is getting tougher and tougher. Riding one winner is already great, to get four feels amazing," said Nunes.

"Of the four, I thought Rich Fortune was my best chance. I know him really well as I've won one race with him before.

"He's got a bit of class, but you can't ride him upside down. You can't be too forward with him but, at the same time, you can't drop him too much either.

"He was in a good spot travelling really well. I know Sure Win is a horse who will hang out when he weakens, so I took a risk by staying on the rails and waited for the gap.

"The gap came and he gave a nice kick to win the race."

Tan was glad Nunes' purple patch of form did not stop at his turn. The last time Rich Fortune scored was actually that very same race Nunes mentioned about - back in April 2016 in a Graduation race

"In the parade ring, the owners were hoping Nunes did not start losing with their horse," said Tan. "We joked with him he must give one win to us as well, and we're glad he delivered. Nunes is in top form and, luckily, he brought it to our horse.

"This horse has always had ability but lost his confidence for a while. He was on and off, but he's been slowly coming back to form.

"The field was not that strong. There were two unknowns in the two new horses (Justice Fair and Royal Diwan), but he was the best horse on the day."