Koh delighted with back-in-form Wijaya

After enduring a lean spell of more than 1 ½ years, Wijaya finally returned to winning ways on Friday night.

The Ruwi six-year-old then raced as Above The Skyline when he brought up the last of his three wins in a Class 4 race over 1400m on February 9, 2016.

Trainer Desmond Koh said he had to be patient with Wijaya, and finding the solution to his niggling issues – surgery to his hind leg - was the key to his recent return to form.

Wijaya (Azhar Ismail) sneaks up on the inside to outbattle his rivals and gain victory in Race 6, picture Singapore Turf Club

At his last start, first-up from a six-month layoff, Wijaya stormed home late to finish a meritorious second to promising filly Filibuster in a speed dash over 1100m on October 27.

Bolstered by that run, jockey Azhar Ismail, who has been Wijaya’s regular partner at his last seven starts bar one, said he was quite upbeat about a win in Friday’s $60,000 Class 4 race over 1200m.

At the 300m mark, the issue looked to be heading $18 favourite Southern Spur’s (Vlad Duric) way as he came with a sustained finish on the outside, but the Northern Meteor four-year-old had not reckoned with Wijaya, who had all along charted a ground-saving run on the rails, hugging that spot all the way to deny Southern Spur by half-a-length.

Tingle Marc (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) also looked half-a-chance at the furlong pole, but had to settle for third place another half-a-length away. The winning time was 1min 10.41secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.

“He’s had soundness issues but they’re clearly behind him now,” said Koh.

“He’s ready to go now. If he stays that way, he should be able to run well again.”

Azhar, recent winner of the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1400m) with Clarton Super, said he had been oozing with confidence ahead of Friday’s outing, especially after his last run.

“After his operation to his hind leg, he has come back better. On the way he ran at his last start, I had a lot of confidence he could win again, and he didn’t disappoint me,” said the veteran Malaysian multiple-champion jockey.

“I had to keep my position and from the way he was travelling at the home turn, I knew he would be making his presence felt tonight.”

With that fourth win coupled with his seven placings, Wijaya, who now races for the Double Luck Stable, has snowballed his stakes money to around $185,000.