Saifudin ends four-month drought with Sky Eleven
Four long months without a winner is a frustrating wait for any jockey, but Saifudin Ismail bided his time, and was finally able to again enjoy the sweet taste of success on Sunday.
Even though the Malaysian lightweight jockey is still in high demand - 103 rides since Jan 1 - the line has been particularly hard to find this season. To the veteran rider, quantity unfortunately did not necessarily rhyme with quality.
But the 48-year-old has coped with similar situations in the past, never losing hope his turn would eventually come up.
And it did in Sunday's opener, the $35,000 Class 5 Division 1 race over the Polytrack 1,200m, thanks to the Leslie Khoo-trained $16 favourite SKY ELEVEN, a horse he has ridden to an eighth place and a closing fourth at his last couple of starts.
After taking the drop just a few strides off the hot tempo set by Sugartime Jazz (Oscar Chavez) and Happy Baby (Manoel Nunes), Sky Eleven, a six-year-old by Fastnet Rock, attacked the line with great determination once he was brought out into the clear, drawing on level terms with Happy Baby before edging past to a three-quarter length win.
"The better rides don't come easy, but I've tried all along to stay positive," said Saifudin, whose last winner came aboard Uncle Lucky on Dec 2.
"All I had to do is keep working hard. I had a good feeling Sky Eleven might be the one today.
"He ran fourth at his last run but he got checked. With the blinkers on today, I thought he had a good chance in a slightly weaker field.
"They went quick early and then they slowed down. I was only worried about switching him to the outside for a clear run.
"Once he got into the clear, he was game enough. At the 200m, I knew he would win as he was finishing better than Nunes' horse."
It was Sky Eleven's fifth win from 41 starts.