As fit as I can be: Nunes
Champion jockey takes eight rides at his riding comeback from injury on Saturday
Comeback jockey Manoel Nunes had a spring in his step after he jumped off Knight Love in the last of four barrier trials on Friday.
Sidelined for more than three months by a neck injury suffered in a race fall in June, the three-time Singapore champion jockey had been longing for the day he could finally return to the saddle.
Back riding trackwork for one week, the hard-working Brazilian has not been loafing around.
He plunged right back into the thick of things from Day 1, and was glad to see he had held up well on the eve of his riding comeback on Saturday.
“I feel fine, there is no problem, no pain, thank God. I feel comfortable and I’m fit to ride at my first meeting tomorrow,” said Nunes.
“I’ve been riding seven to eight horses in trackwork every day since Saturday, and that’s my normal load. I also rode at the trials last Thursday and this morning.
“My weight is around my usual riding weight of 53.5kg.”
What may look like a punishing schedule was Nunes’ way of coping with the high likelihood of being thrown in at the deep end first-up. A soft re-entry would have been ideal, but he knew it was wishful thinking.
“I thought four or five rides would be a good number to start with, but I ended up with eight rides. No choice, I tried my best to make everybody happy,” said Nunes, who still holds an unassailable lead in the jockeys’ premiership with 10 meetings to go.
“In the end, I had to get off three rides: See Yah, Chivalric Knight and Petrograd.
“I knew I could get many rides, and that was why I had to get as fit as I could as I haven’t ridden for three months. It wasn’t easy.
“I run, swim, go to the gym and spa every day. Last time, after I came back from a long break, I was very sore and I even had a fever.
“But I didn’t have those at all this time. I believe spa helped me a lot.
“It’s also true nothing beats race fitness. I’ll probably need two meetings or so to get my full fitness.”
One horse Nunes will be happy to reunite with is the Tim Fitzsimmons-trained Relentless.
The five-year-old son of Hallowed Crown is also resuming, but his break was one month shorter than Nunes’.
At his last start, Relentless had Duric aboard when Lim’s Kosciuszko turned the tables on them in the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1,800m).
The pairing also claimed the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1,600m) on June 26 while Nunes had partnered Relentless earlier – three times for one win in a Class 4 race (1,600m) in May.
There had been discussions of reinstating Duric on Relentless in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1,800m) on Oct 15, but win, lose or draw this Saturday, Nunes stays on.
“I haven’t ridden Relentless in work, but I know him. He trialled very well last week,” said Nunes.
“I’m sure he’ll run well, even if Tim said he may need the run.
“Let’s take one race at a time, but I know the owners (Arexevan Stable) very well. They’ve decided to keep me on for the QEII Cup. I’m so grateful to them for that.”
The withdrawal of Tiger Roar, a horse Nunes won on, from Saturday’s race may have opened the contest up a little, but he said the rest of the field were no pushovers.
“It’s terrible to hear Tiger Roar hurt his knee. I won once on him and he would have been the top pick,” said Nunes.
“I wouldn’t say the race has been made easier after he came out. I still respect horses like Mr Malek, Big Hearted, Top Knight and Senor Don with the light weight.
“But I think Prosperous Return will be the main danger. I’ve won on him, I know what he can do.
“I still think I’m on the right horse, though.”
Friday’s Kranji barrier trial results:
1 Red Maned (J. Bayliss)
2 Cizen Lucky (M. Akmazani)
3 Star Victory (L. Beuzelin)
4 Raging Brave (N. Zyrul)
Margins and time:
Hd, 2 1/2, 1, 141/4
1 Fortune Wheel
2 Khao Manee (Akmazani)
3 Qaidoom (M. Ibrahim)
4 Sahabat (Beuzelin)
5 Quadcopter (M. Lerner)
Margins And Time:
1 1/2, ns, 5, 2
1 Illustrious (Zyrul)
2 Mr Black Back (V. Duric)
3 Teardrops (M. Nunes)
4 Street Of Dreams
5 Gold Kingdom (Lerner)
6 Straight N Arrow (W.H Kok)
7 Fighter (Ibrahim)
8 It’s Complex (R. Fahmi)
Margins and time:
1/2, shd, 1 1/4, 1 3/4, nk, hd, 2 3/4
1 The Jun
2 Per Incrown (N. Rozlan)
3 The Star (Duric)
4 Lim’s Pride (Fahmi)
5 Knight Love (Nunes)
6 Nineoneone (K A’Isisuhairi)
7 Sound The Siren
8 Magnificent Gold
Margins and time:
1/2, nk, 1/2, 1, hd, 1 1/4, 3 1/2