The champ Duric’s Prosperous Return
The 4-time top jockey also scores on newcomer Kassab on first day back
A champion is always a champion. Four-time King of Kranji Vlad Duric bounced back from his time-out with a double on his first day back for the new season on Saturday.
Sidelined for the first four race meetings of the year through a careless riding suspension and a minor throat issue, the 43-year-old jockey was back in the winner's enclosure at only his second ride - the aptly named Prosperous Return in Race 2.
He then took Race 6 on the promising newcomer Kassab - the fourth of his six rides. He was nominated on seven horses but Threeandfourpence was withdrawn from Race 9.
Both his winners were trained by reigning champion Michael Clements, who also sent out Tuesday to take Race 3 with South African Juan Paul van der Merwe astride.
Thanks to the treble, Clements took his season's tally to eight winners, four ahead of Jerome Tan and Lee Freedman, who saddled a double with My Big Boss in Race 8 and Augustano in Race 9.
Both Freedman's winners were ridden by his apprentice jockey, Iskandar Rosman.
Certain quarters thought Duric's best chance was the Clements-trained last-race odds-on favourite Knight Love. But the last-start winner petered out to finish ninth after being handy.
The jockey certainly lived up to his reputation as a top rider with two masterful rides on Prosperous Return and Kassab.
"It's good to be back. This horse is very good, he has a good head," said Duric, referring to the Tivic Stable-owned Prosperous Return in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden event over 1,400m.
"He came back relaxed under me. He's looking for a mile and up to 1,800m. He's tough."
Duric jumped his mount well from the second-widest barrier and moved up together with the last-minute favourite Real Efecto, who was drawn the widest. The pair raced to the front.
After a while, Real Efecto opened up a two-length lead. Prosperous Return kicked up to join him shortly after straightening. They broke clear, but Prosperous Return went ahead from the 200m mark. Thanks to his breakaway, he managed to hold off the fast-finishing Ironprince by a nose to pay $24 for a win.
Duric also rode a similar race on Kassab, who tracked fellow newcomer Wawasan before scoring by 21/2 lengths. The favourite, he paid $12.