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Makin no mistake this time

Champion jockey Nunes finds out first-hand how 1,600m is no problem for the rising 4YO

Manoel Nunes would not allow himself to make the same “mistake” about Makin again.

The champion jockey, who had partnered the Written Tycoon four-year-old at his two previous wins, both over 1,400m, thought he would be a query at his first test over the mile on March 9.

The Brazilian did not jump off per se as he had already been booked on Black Storm, while Al-Arabiya’s decision to test the mile waters for Makin was on the spur of the moment.

Ryan Curatolo took over the reins that day. Nunes ended up pulling the wrong rein.

He must certainly have felt slightly red-faced when Al-Arabiya’s blue and white silks flashed past to nab Black Storm and him on the post.

When Makin was re-entered over 1,600m on March 30, but stepped up in grade to the $85,000 Class 2 event, Nunes put his hand up early this time, even at the 50kg handicap.

He did not really have to as Al-Arabiya’s Mansoor Gandhi was never upset with his No. 1 jockey, who was even allowed to ride him 2.5kg over.

But, from the way Makin ended up running his 10 rivals into the ground, the excess weight clearly did not matter much.

From scepticism about Makin’s stamina, Nunes is now a convert. He is even not against the idea of pushing the 1,600m envelope.

“When they tried him over 1,600m, I had my doubts but he won and surprised me,” he said.

“He’s definitely going to the four-year-old races, and from the way he settles I think he can go up to 1,800m.

“Today, he was also still going through the line, so why not push to the Derby?”

The four-year-old races kick off with the Group 3 Silver Bowl (1,400m) on June 9, followed by the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1,600m) on June 30. The grand finale, the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1,800m), is on July 21.

Often let down by his own tendency to get a little above himself in his races in the past, Makin was a picture of professionalism at his 13th start on March 30.

From his perfect trail in third spot as Fame Star (Jerlyn Seow) reverted to his old tearaway leading tactics, he just had to suck it in for the first 1,000m before letting rip upon straightening.

Now trained by Daniel Meagher following Stephen Crutchley’s recent exit, Fame Star quickly capitulated, unlike Mr Black Back (Faiz Khair), who was next in the running line.

But there was not much the Richard Lim-trained galloper could do once Makin went into overdrive.

All eyes were still on Dream Alliance (Bruno Queiroz) and any of the swoopers like Cavalry (Jaden Lloyd), Raising Sixty-One (Amirul Ismadi) or Prosperous Return (Marc Lerner).

But none were taking much ground off Makin, who strode in with 1 3/4 lengths to spare from Mr Black Back.

Raising Sixty-One was third a neck away, while his better-fancied stablemate Dream Alliance, who never put in a blow, was ninth.

The winning time was 1min 33.84sec for the 1,600m on the long course.

“He’s improved a lot. He settled into a lovely spot today,” said Nunes.

“As Bruno was my main danger, I looked around for him, but I couldn’t find him.

“My horse just kept hitting the line very strongly.”

Burridge was in awe at the way his new four-year-old star has improved by leaps and bounds.

“He’s done a bloody good job this horse,” said the Australian trainer.

“He’ll go to the 4YO races. We’ll back him off and look at a Class 3 1,400m race for him in May.

“Everything went well. Manoel knows the horse, they went quick in front, and that suited him.”

The win also helped wipe away their other four-year-old Ejaz’s disappointing last place in the previous race, the Class 3 (1,400m), which saw a dead-heat between Aniki ($15) and January ($34).

Ejaz ($15 favourite), who won four-from-four as a three-year-old, was second-up after an encouraging fourth back from a one-year absence due to a knee injury.

“Manoel said he jarred up on the track,” said Burridge.

“But he looked like he pulled up sound. We’ll have a better idea tomorrow.”