Infantry staves off the favourite

Exciting finish in Group 3 JBBA Moonbeam Vase

Champion jockey Manoel Nunes' strong faith in INFANTRY was repaid manifold when the Tavistock four-year-old bounced back to the winner's circle in the $200,000 Group 3 JBBA Moonbeam Vase over 1,800m yesterday.

A few knockers had been hinting that the Thai-owned Group 2 Merlion Trophy winner was not cracked out to be that good when fourth to Time Odyssey in an Open Handicap race over 1,600m three weeks ago.

But the man who held the steering wheel would be in a better position to pass a judgment, and Nunes was adamant that run was one-off.

"There was no pace in the race at his last start and he had a heavy weight (58kg) on his back, and gave weight to his rivals," said Nunes.

The Brazilian added that the horse was also held up for a run on the inside and it was best to ignore that run.

As luck would have it, there was a steady tempo to the 11th renewal of the JBBA race from the get-go with noted frontrunner Order Of The Sun strolling to the front from Ricardo Le Grange's pair of Time Odyssey and Perfect P.

Infantry ($42) settled in an ideal spot in mid-division just ahead of favourite Gilt Complex.

That pair would actually begin their run together, but the advantage that Infantry held over Gilt Complex proved to be unassailable in the end, even if Cliff Brown's gallant bay ran his heart out inside the last 300m, only to fall short by a head.

Upon knowing he had nailed it, Nunes could not hold back his joy after the line as he raised his hand in delight.

"I thanked God for another big win. Alwin has done a great job with this horse. We were over the long course, and he really kept fighting to the line," said the three-time Singapore champion jockey.

"I never had any doubt he would see out the 1,800m. He is going the right way for the Derby."

The Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby over 2,000m is on July 9.

Trainer Tan was a little apprehensive over how he would fare in his first local test over 1,800m but he said the horse "has such a big heart."

"I would say he is the best horse in my yard at the moment. He will be going for the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge now," said Tan.