It’s three cheers for Nunes
Former three-time Singapore champion sends out a strong signal for the 2022 season
He arrived at the Kranji racecourse on Saturday morning determined to complete a "mission" which was aborted four years ago.
That day in 2017, when he left Singapore after his riding licence was not renewed, Manoel Nunes had accomplished almost all his riding goals. But there was still some unfinished business.
The three-time champion was five winners short of the magical 500-winner mark which he had set for himself. It pained him and the "500" was always at the back of his mind.
He made it 496 when he won a race during a fleeting visit to Kranji in 2019. And it was quickly 497 and then 499 after bagging three winners over the last two Singapore meetings.
One shy of the target, he went into Saturday's races with a strong book of rides and an even stronger desire.
And, 35 minutes into the day's action, he was finally able to wipe the sweat from his brow.
Good Fight had given him his 500th Kranji winner. Mission accomplished. Whew!
As we now know, he wasn't done. For good measure, he made it 501 with Intrepid in Race 4 and 502 in Race 6 when Superior Coat obliged.
Back to that race which gave Nunes his 500th.
Good Fight jumped cleanly and quickly took a seat behind City Hall and Our Final Offer. Holy Eleanor, the second pick, was at his withers.
At the top of the stretch, Nunes had the $12 favourite in third spot and it was only a matter of time before he claimed the lead.
That he did, 100m from home and he eventually beat the luckless Holy Eleanor by three parts of a length.
The ride on Intrepid, which brought up win No. 501, was vintage Nunes.
After being slow out of the gates, the Brazilian hoop kept his cool as Intrepid stayed second-last all the way down the long back stretch.
Turning for home, Nunes searched for daylight. On finding it, he pointed Intrepid at the gap and asked for an effort.
Intrepid was ready for action and it was "game over". The mare gave Nunes an armchair ride, winning by 31/2 lengths.
Nunes was a marked man and Superior Coat, his mount in the sixth, was packed off as the $12 favourite.
Once again, he delivered and it sent out a strong signal to his fans that he could be the man to watch in the 2022 season.