Racing

Nunes raring to go again

Three-time S'pore champ is serving quarantine to resume from where he left off four years ago

Almost five months have passed since jockey Manoel Nunes secured his six-month Singapore licence, so racegoers have been wondering why the three-time Kranji champion's name is still not on the race cards.

Fret not, he will be soon. The Brazilian has landed in Singapore to take up his riding stint - four years after his last one. He did return once - to ride Countofmontecristo in the Group 1 Raffles Cup in September 2019 - and rode one winner, Limited Edition, at the meeting.

He arrived on Tuesday after a tedious 32-hour journey from Sao Paulo to Singapore.

But he has to serve a 10-day quarantine in his hotel room under Covid-19 protocols before he can hit the track.

"I'm so happy to be back. It's taken a longer time than usual. But, after all the frustration and the endless formalities with the paperwork at home and at the airport, it's been well worth the wait," said Nunes.

"I know I have missed five of the six months from my licence, and will probably only ride at four or five meetings before the season ends (on Nov 27). But that's okay. It'll be like a warm-up for 2022 (for which he has already applied).

"Singapore has been good to me and I'm really looking forward to riding again for the same trainers and owners who supported me the last time. I'm also excited to make new contacts.

"I will keep myself fit with the exercise bike the hotel has kindly delivered to my room. But nothing beats the fitness you gain from riding a horse."

Nunes will be out of quarantine next Friday, but will give himself another week or two before taking his first rides.

He will definitely be available for the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup meeting on Nov 14, two days after his 46th birthday.

Unknown to many, Nunes has not ridden in a race for almost two years.

"My last race ride was at the International Jockeys' Weekend in Mauritius on Dec 1, 2019. I won the last race on a horse called Zigi Zagi Zugi," said the Mauritius champion of that season.

"I was supposed to ride in Canada last year, but there were delays with the permit and biometrics when Covid-19 struck. One year went by and then, luckily, I got the Singapore licence.

"But, rest assured, I've been keeping myself fit even when I was not riding. I rode some of my friend's horses at a private training centre in Sorocaba, which is 100km away from Sao Paulo. I also ran and swam a lot.

"My weight is currently 53kg. But, once I start riding, I know I can easily get down to 51kg. I'm feeling in great form and can't wait to get back in the saddle.

"One thing that I'll be looking forward to is reaching 500 winners. When I left Singapore, that was one of my regrets, being stuck at 496 (made it 497 with Limited Edition). But now, I get a great chance to reach that milestone."

Australia's Daniel Moor has pulled out, while South Africa's Derreck David failed to secure an employment pass to ride.

HORSE RACING