Zuriman gets first win
He surprises everybody with Malaysia-bound $147 outsider Emperor Taizong
Jockey Zuriman Zulkifli returned to the winner's box after almost one year to the day when he drove Emperor Taizong to a shock win on Sunday.
The former Bruce Marsh apprentice jockey won his last race aboard Sacred Magic for his new boss Leslie Khoo on Oct 14 last year, bringing his 2018 seasonal tally to five wins.
Things have been a lot less rosy this season. In 58 rides, the Kelantan-born rider has been going through the motions atop mostly slow horses - with his best results being three seconds and three thirds.
Sunday was shaping up like another bleak day at the office, with only one booking that, on paper, looked like it would not add too much spring to his step.
Khoo was putting him on a horse both knew little about, as Emperor Taizong was at his first start for the yard, having joined them with an uninspiring record of four unplaced runs in as many starts for John O'Hara.
The owners, the Glory Stable, had even booked a one-way ticket to Malaysia for the Arlington three-year-old, but still asked Khoo to give him a couple of runs while waiting.
The former jockey only told Zuriman to ride him where he was happy, and to their delight, they came away with happy results all round, albeit totally "unexpected" by both.
"It's my first winner for the year. It's a nice surprise as I didn't know the horse," said Zuriman of the $147 outsider.
"I never galloped him, it was my first time riding him. It was a question mark how he would run.
"The boss just told me to jump him and settle him where he was comfortable. He drew wide and was caught wide without cover, but he was always on the bridle.
"He actually gave me a good feel as I let him roll to the front. He was travelling really well and that's why I let him go before the home turn.
"He just kept going, but as he had a tough run out wide, he blew out in the last bit. I think he'll turn into a brilliant sprinter."
After overcoming his outermost gate, Emperor Taizong kept rolling forward to eventually take over from early leader, Qiji Star (B Thompson), before skipping clear in the home straight.
All We Know (Benny Woodworth) let down at the 200m but it proved too late. He had to settle for second place one length off, with Resolution (L Beuzelin) third another 2¾ lengths away.
The winning time was 1min 5.75sec for the 1,100m on the Polytrack.
Khoo was delighted with the win, but disappointed he won't get to know how much further he can go under his care.
"It's an unexpected win. I was not very confident as I don't really know this horse," said Khoo.
"I just wanted to see how he runs first, but I was hoping to improve him on his first run for me, and he sure did.
"He had earmuffs on today, and maybe that improved him. Too bad he's going to Malaysia as I think he's not a bad horse."