A training double with back-in-form mare Queen Roulette in the Lucky Last certainly gave trainer Leslie Khoo a much-needed shot in the arm on Friday night.
The facetious handler would not mind the fully-intended pun. The former top jockey has had his left arm in a sling for about a month following a surgery to remove an elbow growth he has had for many years, even during his riding days, but recently had the sling removed with only a bandage left around the forearm.
“My arm is getting better, and tonight I’m having one of my best nights in a long time,” said the Singaporean handler who saddled an earlier winner in longshot Best Wishes (see other report).
Queen Roulette (Nooresh Juglall) bounces back to her best on Friday night, picture Singapore Turf Club
Khoo, who in 2011 finished runner-up to Patrick Shaw on 66 winners - his best season thus far - has had a quiet year by his standards in 2017. Last year this time, he had 33 winners to his tally, 50% more than his current score of 22 winners.
By coincidence, it was the same Queen Roulette and Nooresh Juglall, coupled with a second winner in Shuying Xiaoxiao (also ridden by Juglall) who brought up Khoo’s score to that level on October 23, 2016.
It’s doubtful Khoo would be aware of such statistics. The down-to-earth handler was just happy to enjoy that double – not so rare as it was his third for the year.
“This has been my best night for a long time,” said Khoo.
“Queen Roulette has now won four races for me. Well done to her owner-breeder Mr Teng (Kian Beng).
“1200m is obviously her best distance as she’s won her other three races over that trip as well. Juglall was quite confident before the race and he rode her very well.”
The Mauritian jockey, who has already bettered his best score (45 winners and a fifth place on the log in 2015) in his four seasons spent at Kranji, is keeping up his slow climb to the top through the premiership.
Fifth on 47 winners before the meeting, he joins Glen Boss on 48 winners but pinches his fourth place on a better countback for seconds.
Juglall confirmed he did harbour a silent hope the $32 shot could deliver but she would first have to overcome red-hot favourite ($11) Paparazzi (John Powell).
“There was not much pace, and we thought we would go forward unless another horse kicks up on the inside,” he said.
“Things played out in our hands as we got a beautiful trail behind the leader (O’Reilly Bay). My only worry was how far behind was Paparazzi?
“In the last 200m, I thought JP (Powell) would still come and get us as she was still hanging in there, but he never showed up.
“This filly has been so good to me as this is my third win with her. Big thanks to Leslie and the owner for being loyal to me, it pays off.
“She’s a small thing but she’s got such a big heart. She always puts everything down for me.
“She’s a very decent filly and Leslie has placed her quite good in her races.”
Queen Roulette defeated Copacabana (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) by three-quarter length with Lim’s Blast (Glen Boss) third another quarter length away. The winning time was 1min 11.34secs for the 1200m on the Short Course.
With that fourth win in 20 starts, the daughter of Ruwi has now amassed a tidy sum of $235,000 for her lucky connections.