Troy celebrates return with Beer Garden
Former top rookie wins on second day after getting a six-month licence
Former top apprentice jockey Troy See certainly made up for lost time, after getting his licence back, albeit for only half a year from Jan 1.
In just his second meeting after 11/2 years on the sidelines, the 32-year-old was back celebrating with the Jerome Tan-trained $84 outsider Beer Garden in Saturday's $50,000 Class 4 Div 2 race over 1,200m on turf.
It was the first of his three rides on Saturday, but he paid a price - a two-race day suspension - for careless riding on the winner. He returned to race riding a week earlier but was unplaced in four rides.
Well known for his constant battle of the bulge throughout a riding career that began in 2012, See was also pleased with both his current weight and fitness, considering he had been away for so long.
The fitness freak, who ran a gym during the time he was not licensed by the Singapore Turf Club, was not loafing around since the good news came through last November that he had been given a second chance with the six-month licence.
"I've been working like a cow and eating like a peasant," said the genial Singaporean, whose win-meter had stopped at 132 with Dragon High on March 24, 2019.
"The first week, I was blowing and it was frustrating, as I couldn't help the horses run through their natural rhythm. I was out of sync, but I feel a lot better this week.
"From 56kg, I'm glad I was able to make it at 53.5kg today, and I reckon that is not the bottom yet. I think I can still drop to 52.5kg.
"Still, I thought I would have another quiet day. I certainly didn't give Beer Garden much of a chance from that draw (11), but he proved me wrong.
"Jerome told me to try and jump well or take him back with cover if they are faster. But, though he has a reputation of being slow away, he was good today.
"When I saw the leader (Mr Showman) on a loose rein, I knew I could win that race. He gave me a scare in the last 50m, but he held on well.
"Jerome has done a very good job with this horse."
Ridden more forward than usual to stalk up Mr Showman (Ruan Maia), the Proisir four-year-old had the word "winner" written all over when See cut the ribbons at the top of the straight.
The Louis-Philippe Beuzelin-ridden $14 favourite Pattaya came inching closer and closer but the bird had flown.
Beer Garden held on to win by a short head and clocked 1min 11.31sec on the yielding track.
Triple Bowl, ridden by Wong Chin Chuen, finished third, 11/4 lengths away.
The win kept Tan at the top of the trainers' table.
He saddled a double on the first race meeting of the new season, with Per Incrown and Surpass Natural.
Lying in second spot with two winners are Mark Walker, Michael Clements, Ricado Le Grange and Lee Freedman.
The brilliant run was a nice tonic to Tan's parade ring mishap in the first race. He was kicked on his right upper arm by his charge, Big Day.
"I got kicked by my own horse, Big Day, in the parade ring. As I was about to give the jockey a leg-up, the horse kicked out. He missed the jockey, but he got me on my right arm," he said.
"But it's good to see my horses running well. They are in form at the moment. It's a good start to the season."
As Beer Garden was drawn wide in Gate 11, Tan told See to ride the horse more positively and settle behind Mr Showman, whom he thought would be the likely leader.
"Things just worked out well for us," he added.
"It's good to see Troy back a winner. I've supported him many times before and he deserves it."
It was Beer Garden's third win from 17 starts. He has brought his prize money to about $130,000 for his owner Ling Boon Lai.
Like See, Panama-born Oscar Chavez also returned triumphant from a long layoff with In All His Glory in Saturday's last race.