Chairman gives Pike first Kranji winner
Winner entered for Emirates Singapore Derby but could not make the cut-off points
Leading Perth jockey William Pike did not let his second chance to ride a winner in Singapore go begging at Kranji on Sunday.
The eight-time Perth champion jockey paid his first visit at the Patron's Bowl meeting on June 18, coming up with a second place aboard Little Big Man on the undercard as his best performance from five rides.
His main assignment, Lim's Samurai in the Group 1 Patron's Bowl (1,600m), the second pin of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, ran eighth.
Trainer Laurie Laxon had actually booked the 31-year-old for two meetings on the same Japanese-bred son of Samurai Heart, the second mission being logically in the grand final, yesterday's Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (2,000m).
With six more rides (including a pick-up ride on Lim's Knight) to enhance his chances at the Kranji winner's box, Pike was right on target at his second ride this time around, CHAIRMAN, in the $80,000 Hello New York Stakes, a Kranji Stakes C race over 2,000m.
Bouncing Chairman fairly quickly out of the machine, Pike promptly settled the Irish-bred Thai-owned son of Galileo, outside the leader The Capital (Barend Vorster), also sporting the light blue colours of the Falcon Racing No. 7 Stable, but prepared by trainer Ricardo Le Grange.
The order did not change much up to the point of the turn when Pike decided it was time to get a wriggle on, sensing that The Capital was about to capitulate.
Le Grange's last-start winner Mighty Emperor (Vlad Duric) was in hot pursuit on the outside, but Chairman never showed any signs of letting up as he kept whacking way under Pike's hard riding.
Favourite El Don (Glen Boss) loomed large on the outside, but his turn of foot was not as sharp this time.
Le Grange, who saddled a four-pronged attack in the race, fired a last salvo with his remaining pair of Iron Man (Nooresh Juglall) and Mighty Kenny (John Powell), but to no avail.
Pike had his first Singapore sling in the bag as Chairman held sway right up to the end, holding off Iron Man by half-a-length, with Golazo (Derreck David) third, a head away.
The winning time was 2min 04sec for the 2,000m trip of the race considered as the Derby "consolation stakes".
"It's great to get the opportunity (to ride here) a second time. I had tricky draws the last time I was here, but I sure enjoyed my visit," said Pike.
"I'm of course glad I got my first winner here in Singapore, but I've still got a few more rides to go, including the big one for Mr Laxon later on.
"Mr Laxon and (assistant-trainer) Shane (Ellis) were adamant this horse had to be on the pace. He is very tough and he ran his race pretty much the same way as last time.
"I hit the front a long way from home and it was a bit worrying but he dug deep for the win."
Laxon was delighted with not only Pike's first Kranji salute on one of his horses, but for renewing winning ties with the Thai owner Krit Chisatteni after a very long time.
"This is not my first winner for Krit. We had a lot of success before with horses like Magnum Force and Tomwatha," said the nine-time Singapore champion trainer who has announced he is soon calling it a day in Singapore to return to his native New Zealand to continue his training career.
"The horse was pretty fit. We actually entered him in the Derby but he could not make the cut-off points."