First Khoo-Placais winning combo comes with Best Wishes

Trainer Leslie Khoo and jockey Olivier Placais combined for the first time for a win on Friday night.

The two have been around for a while, but it’s only recently they started to pair up. Outsider Best Wishes was the first one to seal the budding partnership in the $60,000 Class 4 Division 2 race over 1200m.

Coming off an ideal one-out one-back spot, Best Wishes (who had never scored let alone placed in nine previous outings) burst through the pack at the 300m to upstage a competitive field which featured debutant and $16 favourite Dusserdolf (John Powell) and much more fancied runners like Lim’s Regard (Glen Boss) and Biraz (Oscar Chavez).

Best Wishes (Olivier Placais) springs a surprise to score in Race 5, picture Singapore Turf Club

But Placais had summed up the race to a nicety, wielding the whip to good effect in the last 100m to lord over his rivals with some authority. Silent Arrow (Shafrizal Saleh) took second place another half-a-length away while Dusserdolf looked like he would gobble them up when he was angled out to the outside, but lack of racing fitness probably told in the end as he settled for third place another half-a-length away.

The winning time was 1min 11.39secs for the 1200m on the Short Course.

“I’m very happy to have won my first race for Leslie. He’s been supporting me with a few rides lately,” said Placais, who still had a smile at the weighing-in even if his winning mount suddenly shied away upon returning to scales, sending him to the turf, but luckily, without causing any harm.

“I’m actually not surprised with the win even though it was my first time riding him. Yes, it’s true he hasn’t shown much, but I watched his last race and he finished nicely with a fifth place.

“Tonight, I was behind three horses and outside Johnny’s horse (Dusserfolf). He was very relaxed and once he saw daylight, he gave a nice kick.

“Thanks to Leslie and the owner (Blue Star Stable) for the ride. I hope there will be more good rides coming from them in the future.”

Khoo said the key to Best Wishes’ ($118) maiden win was the removal of blinker-pacifiers.

“He ran over 1200m in New Zealand and that’s why I’m keeping him to short distances,” said the Singaporean conditioner.

“I took off the blinker-pacifiers and he was definitely more relaxed tonight. He was too keen with that gear on before.”

Best Wishes was known as Halleloojah in New Zealand where he recorded four wins between 800m and 1200m for prizemoney in excess of NZ$45,000. With that first Singapore success, he has now pocketed close to $40,000 for his new local connections.