Nunes back as winner but not in Raffles Cup
Former three-time S'pore champ wins on Limited Edition in one of undercards
Former three-time Singapore champion jockey Manoel Nunes might have failed in his mission in the $800,000 Group 1 Raffles Cup over 1,600m aboard the $17 favourite Countofmontecristo, but he did not leave without greeting the Kranji judge.
Coincidentally, his winner on Sunday - Limited Edition - carried the same red-and-silver stars silks of Nova Racing Stable at his farewell salute on Dec 3, 2017.
The Brazilian ace then won the Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes over 1,700m with Nova Strike, bowing out at his last Kranji meeting in the best possible way.
Nova's Limited Edition's win - the second for newly licensed trainer Jason Ong, after Sothistheone last Friday - might have been in just a $50,000 Class 4 Division 2 race over 1,200m, but Nunes was just as ecstatic.
"I'm very happy to come back here and be able to ride a winner, more so when it's Jason's second winner," said Nunes.
Currently the leading jockey in Mauritius, Nunes left Kranji at the end of the 2017 season after five highly successful seasons, claiming the title from 2014 to 2016.
The 43-year-old jockey, who also has six Macau champion jockey titles to his name, has returned to his old hunting ground for just a hit-and-run visit, thanks to Singaporean owner Joe Singh, who hired him for the plum ride aboard Countofmontecristo in the Raffles Cup.
A jockey who commanded big books of rides during his wonder years at Kranji, Nunes didn't have to whip out his phone to pick up four other rides on the undercard when news came through he would be back on our shores.
After the first two, Elena Of Avalor and Lago De Como, ran out of the placings, Limited Edition sealed the return of the former Kranji kingpin with typical Nunes polish.
Taking a drop in fourth place as a line of three comprising Eastiger (Michael Rodd), Hyde Park (Ben Thompson) and Grand Choice (Benny Woodworth) vied for the lead, Nunes had the race all stitched up the moment he brought the $16 second favourite into the clear at the 400m mark.
He then came with his trademark opening of reins to get his mount balanced up and switched onto the right leg before going for the kill.
Limited Edition went on to score with half-a-length to spare from Eastiger, with Silent Force (Simon Kok Wei Hoong) dashing home late for third, a short head away.
The winning time was just a tick under 1min 10sec for the 1,200m on the Short Course B.
Ong, who took over from retired New Zealand trainer Bruce Marsh last week, could not have dreamt of a more sterling first couple of days at the office.
"It's a good start. We expected this horse to run well and Nunes rode a good race," said Ong.
"At his second run, he raced wide from a wide barrier and we stepped him up to 1,400m. I decided to take him back to basics - to 1,200m - and it's paid off. It's also a big plus to have Nunes riding for us."
Nunes, who is not only valued for his riding skills, but also for his horsemanship, which again came to the fore during his post-race appraisal, will no doubt be heeded by Ong.
"I had a beautiful run right through," he said of his 497th Singapore winner.
"He's still green but I don't think he needs any new gear."