Golden Dash gets it

South African jockey Juan Paul van der Merve steering Golden Dash (No. 9) past the luckless Gamely in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden event over 1,200m at Kranji last night.
South African jockey Juan Paul van der Merve steering Golden Dash (No. 9) past the luckless Gamely in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden event over 1,200m at Kranji last night.ST PHOTO: SALWA SUANDI

Le Grange-trained 2YO steps up on debut third to give jockey welcome change of luck

In just 48 hours, the name Golden Dash - auspicious as it sounds - popped up in the winning list in two different racing jurisdictions.

On Wednesday night, Hong Kong's Golden Dash won to give champion jockey Zac Purton his 999th winner. The Australian rider should achieve the landmark victory at Sha Tin this afternoon.

Last night at Kranji, Singapore's Golden Dash also greeted the judge. For his jockey, Juan Paul van der Merve, it was certainly a welcome change of luck.

The 28-year-old South African's stint has really been exasperating, having not won since his first Kranji victory aboard Loving You on March 1. Loving You was his 33rd Kranji ride and Golden Dash his 130th.

For winning trainer Ricardo Le Grange, things have also been slow this year. Golden Dash was only his 10th winner of the season and the trainer was obviously happy with the success of his Gold & Chelsea Stable-owned youngster.

A two-year-old Argentinian-bred gelding, Golden Dash came from way back to finish third at his debut on May 10, also with van der Merve astride.

Drawn a little closer last night - gate 4 to 11 first-up - and, with the luxurious 49.5kg handicap, Golden Dash raced more forward in fifth position in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden event for two and three-year-olds over the same 1,200m trip on the short course.

Newcomers Stunning Dragon and Retallica disputed the lead from Yakety Yak and Gamely, who has three seconds and two thirds in his last five starts. Then came Golden Dash.

Stunning Dragon popped slightly ahead at the halfway mark but was challenged by Retallica, Yakety Yak and Gamely on straightening. Golden Dash also moved up nicely.

Gamely, ridden by Perth jockey Joseph Azzopardi, pinched a clear lead from the 300m mark. Van der Merve made his move but Golden Dash laid inwards and had to be straightened.

Once balanced up again, Golden Dash cut down the deficit but would it be too late? No, his quick turn of foot got him past the leader 100m out for a half-length victory in 1min 10.83sec. The favourite, Golden Dash paid $12 for a win.

"It's awesome. Lots of pressure, I've been battling to get some nice rides, obviously a big thank you to Ricardo," said van der Merve.

Then turning to the horse, the winner of more than 700 races said: "He's quite a nice individual. In his first start, he was still green. Today, I was worried about the short course but nice draw.

"He's still a baby but he broke okay, got a nice position. Before the straight, I had to pull out to get a clear run quite early and he came on nicely. It's nice to win again."

To saddle only 10 winners so far has surely been frustrating for Le Grange, who saddled 65 winners in his first season to finish second to Mark Walker in the trainers' premiership and 41 winners last year.

"You know, it's been frustrating times. I'm not going to kid you guys," said the South African.

"You know, to have an old bunch of horses that just go around every couple of weeks can be quite boring. But I've got 10 nice young horses and he's one of them. Yeah, he's a nice horse with a bit of future, I think."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2019, with the headline 'Golden Dash gets it'. Print Edition | Subscribe