Racing

Nunes wants to make it Count

Former Kranji champion to rIde in The Raffles Cup

It's been almost two years since Manoel Nunes won a race in those purple colours of horse owner Joe Singh.

To the Brazilian jockey, it's been two years too long and he's in a hurry to put things right.

That day in October, 2017, Yabadabadoo came through for the then-Kranji champion and, come Sunday, he will slip into those same colours when he partners Countofmontecristo in the Raffles Cup.

Needless to say, the three-time Singapore champion jockey is eager to get on with the job.

The Brazilian hoop ruled the roost at Kranji between 2013 and 2017, winning three champion jockey titles from 2014 to 2016, and finishing runner-up at the other two seasons.

Since he left Singapore after the 2017 season, Nunes has shuttled from Macau, where he once won six champion jockey titles, to South Korea, and is currently licensed in Mauritius where he has taken the 207-year-old Champ de Mars racecourse by storm.

When an invitation from Singapore owner Joe Singh to ride Countofmontecristo in this Sunday's $800,000 race over the mile came, the reply was, however, not a spontaneous "yes".

Nunes is retained by the Shyam Hurchund stable and its main owner David Chui Wan Cheong. While the Mauritius Saturday, Sept 21 meeting didn't clash with the Raffles Cup meeting, there are only three weekly seven-hour flights between Mauritius and Singapore, and none scheduled on Saturday night.

But, after discussing with his bosses, Nunes accepted the invitation.

After knocking back two previous short-term applications from Nunes, the Singapore Turf Club gave the go-ahead this time, paving the way for the return of probably the most popular Brazilian at Kranji after Joao Moreira.

Known as a big-race jockey, Nunes, however, remained professional about the pitstop visit. A winner of 71 Group races, including 22 in Singapore, Nunes is just treating the raid as any other job, while thankful for the opportunity.

"I was riding in Korea when Joe asked me to ride Countofmontecristo and Eye Guy in feature races last year, but it didn't work out. He again asked me to ride Countofmontecristo in this year's Raffles Cup, but I said I had to think about it," said Nunes.

"As my stable had only one runner this Saturday, I spoke to David and he was very understanding.

"I also have to thank Michael Clements as he has always been a good supporter of mine when I was riding in Singapore.

"I've ridden Countofmontecristo only once and we didn't win (incidentally, in the 2017 Raffles Cup, then over 1,800m, when fourth to the late Gilt Complex). But I've seen his recent runs, including his win in the Group 2 Merlion Trophy (1,200m) at his last start (August 25), and he's in very good form."

Nunes, who arrives in Singapore on Saturday and flies back to Mauritius on Tuesday, said he was really enjoying his stint in the tropics.

Yesterday's Hong Kong meeting was abandoned.

HORSE RACING