Nunes bows out with Group 3 winner
Three-time Singapore champion beats all but Australian Vlad Duric in 2017 champion jockey's title race
Outgoing three-time Singapore champion jockey Manoel Nunes might have missed his fourth straight title but he bowed out of the Kranji scene with a blaze of glory all the same yesterday, the final day of the 2017 Singapore racing season.
The Brazilian, who was among a few notable riders whose licence was not renewed for 2018, ended his stint with a runaway victory in the $175,000 Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes.
His mount, the $24 second- favourite Nova Strike, tore away in the straight to win as he liked in a new course record for the Polytrack 1,700m.
The Alwin Tan-trained winner's time of 1min 42.87sec was 0.18sec faster than the record set by Dragonfly in 2013.
The Nunes-Tan partnership had had a good year with 2017 Horse of the Year front-runner Infantry, who captured the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (2,000m), Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile (1,600m), Group 2 Merlion Trophy (Polytrack 1,200m) and the Group 3 JBBA Moonbeam Vase (1,800m).
Nova Strike, third in the Derby, tracked champion owner Lim's Stable's tearaway leader Lim's Archer, who crossed in from his wide barrier to lead and was six lengths away in the backstraight but came back to the field turning for home.
Nunes brought Nova Strike forward to just two lengths adrift of the leader on straightening and then punched his mount to the front 350m out.
"Well, I'll take a break now, take a holiday, fly back to Brazil and see what happens next. I'm grateful to be here and had a lot of successes, so thank you everyone."Jockey Nunes on his future
From there, Nova Strike just kicked further and further away to beat the late-closing Magstock by four-and-a-half lengths.
Lim's Archer held on third, half a length behind and a short head in front of Mighty Kenny.
Tan put it down to the weak field for Nova Strike's victory, as well as Nunes' horsemanshp.
"I think, today, the field is not that strong. Nunes also did a good job," said the 2016 Singapore champion trainer.
"I think this horse is always in form, sometimes just the luck, you know. He always got checked.
"This year, Nunes has won a lot of Cups for me. I had a good time with him."
Nunes, who lost to Australian Vlad Duric by six winners with the final score at 83-77, was full of praise for Nova Strike.
"He's a very tough horse and he always tries 100 per cent," he said.
"Lim's horse went fast to the front and I was travelling well in second. I knew he was going to stop and my horse was travelling very well all the way."
Sounding a bit emotional, the Brazilian described the just-concluded season as amazing.
"I'm very happy with the season I had. We won a lot of Cup races this year. Amazing.
"Well, I'll take a break now, take a holiday, fly back to Brazil and see what happens next.
"It's a pleasure to be here. I'm very grateful to be here and had a lot of successes, so thank you everyone. Very happy."
Nunes finished second to compatriot Joao Moreira in his first season in 2013 although he rode 112 winners.
Moreira won with 179 winners.
Moreira then left for Hong Kong and Nunes topped the table the next three seasons - with 108 winners in 2014, 123 in 2015 and 75 last year.