Duric goes bang, bang, bang

Turf Champion (No. 1) giving extra under Vlad Duric's vigorous riding to beat Destiny Knight in Race 3 and give the champion jockey the second leg of his hat-trick at Kranji last night.
Turf Champion (No. 1) giving extra under Vlad Duric's vigorous riding to beat Destiny Knight in Race 3 and give the champion jockey the second leg of his hat-trick at Kranji last night.ST PHOTO: SALWA SUANDI

Apprentice See & Gold Cup-winning jockey Rodd share top honours with 3 winners each

Unlike last year, newly crowned Singapore champion jockey Vlad Duric got off to a flying start on his first day of riding this season to suggest a back-to-back title is a strong possibility.

After missing the first two days of the new season because of a suspension for careless riding last year, the Australian went to the Kranji races yesterday with rides in the first four races and raced away with a hat-trick after finishing third in the opening event on the $13 favourite Auspicious Ace.

But he was not alone in hogging the limelight.

Apprentice Troy See later emulated Duric's feat, also riding three winners from four rides - the John O'Hara-trained $137 long shot Mettlesome in Race 1, the O'Hara-trained $120 outsider Baymax in Race 5 and the Alwin Tan-trained $19 chance Maximus in Race 7.

Not to be outdone, jockey Michael Rodd joined in the fun, becoming the third rider to score a treble, but from five rides.

The Dester Singapore Gold Cup-winning jockey kicked home Golden Sword ($17 in Race 6), Draco ($20 in Race 8) and Baffert ($16 in Race 9), all for Gold Cup-winning trainer Cliff Brown.

Only three riders dominating a meeting's proceedings is surely something unique.

Back to Duric.

The Leticia Dragon-trained $15 second favourite Per Incharge provided him with his first winner of the new season with a runaway three-and-a-half-length victory in Race 2.

But he certainly had to work overtime for his second winner in the next event.

His mount, the Mohd Yusof-trained $12 favourite Turf Champion, was embroiled in a titanic tussle with $50 outsider and race-leader Destiny Knight all the way up the long straight .

But Duric proved why he was a deserving champion when his vigorous riding got Turf Champion home first by a head.

Duric was a bit worried when his third winner, the James Peters-trained $24 chance Mr Colin in Race 4, was a bit too quiet in the running.

But the newcomer produced a powerful run in the straight for an incredulous four-and-a-half-length win.

"I came here with just the first four races and I thought it would be a bit of a blow-out and come back here on Sunday. Lovely to start with a few winners," said Duric, who won last year's title with 83 winners.

"Last year, I was a bit slow at the start. It was probably my fifth or sixth meeting that I rode my first winner. It's good to be on the board early."

Interestingly, even before his hat-trick, the banter between the three Singapore Turf Club broadcasters was whether the high-riding Australian could achieve the magical ton for 2018.

This is certainly not a big ask, with three-time Singapore champion, Brazilian Manoel Nunes, not around to offer a stiff challenge.

"That's a goal, so we'll see how we go," said the 40-year-old, when posed the million-dollar question.

Emphatic debut winner Mr Colin earned top marks from Duric.

"He's real genuine. He did everything perfectly," he said.

" I was worried he was a bit quiet and he wasn't going to switch on."

"But he was the ultimate professional, you know.

"He did everything spot-on for me.

"When I got out into the clear, he gave me a really nice turn of foot.

"I love the way he gallops, he puts his head down and really tries, so when you have a horse like that, you're halfway home."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2018, with the headline 'Duric goes bang, bang, bang'. Print Edition | Subscribe