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Kok keen for Tiger to Roar again

Old partner prays for rain and a miracle for injury-plagued long shot in $1m Kranji Mile

Against his illustrious stablemate Lim’s Kosciuszko’s likely skinny $6 quote, Tiger Roar will not be alone to start at long odds in the $1 million Group 1 Kranji Mile (1,600m) on May 18.

But, for Simon Kok, sitting in as Tiger Roar’s Kranji Mile rider was already a long shot to begin with.

The Malaysian jockey would have been riding somewhere in France if not for two-time Singapore champion owner Falcon Racing’s manager Eric Koh ringing him out of the blue around April.

“Eric called me to ask if I wanted to come back and ride for Falcon, more so in the big races,” said Kok, who was then having a working holiday in France after marrying French fiancee Lola in December.

“I’ve had only two rides in Nimes (March 24) for two thirds. It was a very encouraging start, especially as their trainer Jerome Reynier is a leading trainer in France.

“I was looking forward to riding in more races. When I left Singapore in November, the plan was to ride in France for a while longer.

“At the same time, Singapore racing will be gone forever. I had to return to the country that made me as a jockey, that’s why I didn’t relinquish my Singapore licence.

“France was a very good experience, I wished I could’ve stayed longer to get more rides. But Eric’s call came earlier, so why not?”

The prospect of reuniting with the powerful Thai outfit was the clincher for taking French leave.

Kok has won countless races in the light blue silks, including three at Group level, the highest acclaim being Big Hearted’s 2020 Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup win.

They combined for a second feature win with the same Tiger Roar in the 2021 Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1,200m).

Their paths then split, but when the chance to get back on the seven-time winner (four under him) came, he could not resist the lure.

“I love this horse very much. He’s such a genuine horse,” he said. “If he didn’t have surgery, he could have won a Group 1 by now.

“Lim’s Kosciuszko will be hard to beat, but a miracle can happen if it rains. It will help my horse’s legs.”

Tiger Roar’s promising career was derailed by two serious knee injuries and a shoulder slab fracture, which confined him to his box longer than on the track.

Daniel Meagher had to handle the son of Wandjina with care since taking over from trainer Michael Clements, who quit in September.

In two starts for the Australian, he ran on for fifth in the Group 3 Fortune Bowl (1,400m) on Feb 11, but the follow-up in the Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1,400m) on March 9 was less inspiring.

At the May 9 barrier trials when Kok jumped back on the six-year-old after 20 months, he said it felt like they had never parted.

“I’m not surprised with the last place as he’s not a good trialling horse,” he said.

“But I was still happy with him. He’s in the same kind of fitness he was at when I last rode him, in terms of how he feels in his action.”

Kok knows a lot less the other Falcon feature runner, October, who contests the $150,000 Group 2 Singapore Guineas (1,600m).

But he has partnered the Jason Ong-trained galloper once – to a closing sixth to Lim’s Bighorn in the Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic (1,400m) on April 27.

“I was very happy with my first ride on him. He has definitely benefited from that run,” he said.

“October has never run over 1,600m but, from the way he made ground, I think he’s looking for it.”

In two meetings since his Kranji return, Kok has yet to salute in 10 rides, but he is not panicking.

“A lot of the Falcon horses have been hitting their ratings, and it’s harder for them to win,” he said.

“Once they drop to more suitable ratings, they’ll win sooner or later.”