Ricardo gets first winner on second day
Yesterday's Singapore race round-up
The thunderstorm that delayed the start of yesterday's Race 8 by 15 minutes was probably a shower of blessing for newly-licenced trainer Ricardo Le Grange.
The 43-year-old South African finally secured that "elusive" first winner with SOUTHERN DRAGON, who slayed fellow smart debut winner, the $9 favourite Ace King, in the Novice event over 1,400m.
Having inherited Patrick Shaw's powerful stable last month, after his boss went on a six-and-a-half month sabbatical due to health reasons, Le Grange kicked off his own training career on Sunday.
Despite having fielded a strong team in the first meeting of the new season with 13 runners over seven races, the winners just eluded him.
He had two exasperating seconds - Siamese Cat, who was caught in the last few strides by D'Buffalo Man, and Big Brother, who beat all but Guru-Guru in the Group 3 New Year Cup.
Yesterday, the best of his three runners in two earlier races was a third with Iron Man but, after the rain, Le Grange's luck changed.
Southern Dragon, who tracked Ace King from the word "go", hit the front in the final 200m and careered away to an emphatic victory.
Jockey Nooresh Juglall was so pleased to have ridden the first winner for Le Grange that he punched his right hand in delight to celebrate the occasion.
And, like they say, good things come in pairs.
In the next race - the $100,000 Open Benchmark race over 1,200m which was the day's main event - Juglall brought STORM TROOPS from a handy spot to give Le Grange a quick double.
For good measure, it was a stable queue-up as the runner-up Ode To Joy was also trained by Le Grange.
"It's very sunny at the moment," said a smiling but obviously emotional Le Grange, punning on the weather.
"I'm so grateful, I'm so humbled and what can I say? You know, this is the moment you wanted your whole life.
"Thank you to everybody, thank you to the turf club and thanks to Pat and Wendy, my mum and dad, and my brother."
Le Grange joined Shaw in 2001, when Shaw relocated to Singapore, and the duo enjoyed huge success together, in number of winners and feature-race triumphs, among them the great Rocket Man in Dubai.