Z-man is A-class and going great guns
Six months to go and the battle hots up
Like A'Isisuhairi Kasim in 2015 and Wong Chin Chuen last year, Zawari Razali is putting in a strong claim to 2017's Top Apprentice honours and, judging by his "form"of late, few will bet against him claiming the crown long before the season is up.
Zawari was in his element on Sunday, cleaning up with a couple of winners in Hello Michelle and Star Genius.
Indentured to trainer Mark Walker, who himself hit the half-century mark on the weekend and looks a shoo-in for training accolades, both of Zawari's winners were from his master's yard.
MAN OF THE MOMENT
Yes, if there's a man of the moment, it has to be the Z-man - Zawari.
With a priceless two kilogram claim, which must be seen as gold dust to owners, Zawari came into last weekend's races on the back of three good winners the week before - Lim's Signature and Viviano on June 9 and Super Genius on the Sunday.
It brought his winning tally to 12 and, with Sunday's early double, Wong's lead has been whittled down to just a solitary winner - 15 to 14 - and it's "game on" in the battle for the title.
Like Wong, Zawari's also a Malaysian whose home town is up north in Kelantan.
A guy with good balance in the saddle, he used to ride for trainers Brian Dean and Sonny Yap before "switching stalls" to Walker's yard.
Right now, the thing going for Zawari is his "versatility". The guy's not one-dimensional in that he can win from the front of the pack - we saw that when he scored on Nazir early this month - and he can knock them in with well-timed runs from a long way back. Like what he did on Hello Michelle on Sunday.
In the course of the next few months, Wong - who is still riding as well as ever and enjoying a stellar season - might find a length or two on his countryman and challenger.
But if it boils down to a charge for the crown, I'll be betting on Zawari.
Not only is he a good rider, more importantly, he's getting rides from the best yard in the land. And that should swing it his way.