Apprentice CC Wong hopes to better last year's winning tally
With less than four months left of the Singapore racing season, the heat is on for the champion apprentice jockey title quest.
But, despite the pressure, CC Wong is striving to outdo himself more than anything else.
Indentured to David Hill, the Penang-born rider is currently on the top of the log with 22 winners, just three ahead of Zawari Razali.
The pair have figured prominently in the apprentice's premiership since the start of this year, but the pace has hotted up after Mark Walker's rookie bagged six winners in June to close the gap between them.
While Wong (Evertrust) and Zawari (Mighty Conqueror) scored one win each for their masters last Friday, Wong has suffered a setback as he has to serve a four-race meetings suspension (Aug 21 to Sept 8) over two charges of careless riding, aboard Oxbow Sun and Sun Seeker, from Monday.
The 23-year-old said he would keep an eye on Zawari's rides for the week, all in the name of healthy competition, but added that, if there was anyone to beat, he is all about outdoing himself on his total score of 31 winners in 2016.
"I don't really look at how Zawari rides in the races, but I do look at the race cards to see how many rides he has, and how many good chances there are," he said.
"Right now, I am only leading by three winners, so there is definitely pressure in terms of defending my title. There is about four more months left, but I think my greatest opponent is still myself, so I hope I can do better than what I have achieved last year.
"I will miss out on four meetings next week onwards, so I hope I can do my best to get some winners this week."
Wong has six mounts (Cavatina, Lam Edition, Oxbow Sun, Urban Legend, Sure Win and Legendary Sun) tonight and four rides (Nicator, Northern Sun, Sun Seeker and Laser Storm) on Sunday, after Battle Of Troy was scratched.
His total number of rides this weekend is twice that of Zawari's (four tonight and one on Sunday).
Wong is looking forward to riding the Bruce Marsh-trained Laser Storm, whom he rode to finish second behind Distinctive Darci in the Korea Racing Authority Trophy race over the Poly 1,200m last time out.
He is hopeful of a good run with the horse in the $100,000 Open Benchmark 97 race over 1,200m on the Polytrack on Sunday.
"Laser Storm is coming back from a short let-up and has been working and trialling well (ran second in a trial on Tuesday behind Supernova)," said Wong, who partnered Laser Storm to dead-heat with Super Winner in a Kranji Stakes A race over the same distance in August last year.
"I did a few gallops with the horse after his last run and he has maintained his condition, so I am very happy with the horse, and I think he should run a good race."