Chavez keeps the good run going

Jockey Oscar Chavez’s red-hot form on Friday kept on in the same vein on Sunday with a riding double courtesy of two runners from another one of his staunchest supporters, trainer Alwin Tan: White Coffee and Xiong Fong.

A 10-year-old by Lonhro, White Coffee ($51) is a typical in-and-out performer, but the old stager decided he was in a winning mood in the opening event, the $35,000 Class 5 Division 1 race over 1400m, surging from the ruck to score by half-a-length from Leonardo (Troy See). He ran the 1400m on the Short Course in 1min 23.7secs.

Aboard Xiong Fong ($33) in the $60,000 Class 4 Division 2 race over 1200m seven races later, Chavez was a lot more positive, taking the Sepoy four-year-old straight to the lead under battering rain.

Xiong Fong (Oscar Chavez) puts paid to his rivals in the rain, picture Singapore Turf Club

Vlad Duric would not let Chavez enjoy a cushy time, though, as he slid alongside aboard Melting Point, with the obvious intention of taking the race early to the leader seeing as the rest of the 13-horse field could use flippers at the back of a field which looked more like a scene from Waterworld.

Melting Point almost drew on level terms but under Chavez’s hard riding, Xiong Fong mustered a second wind, kicking up on the rails before drawing clear for a 1 ¼-length victory from his sole challenger.

One Kinabalu (Matthew Kellady) emerged late from the beaten brigade to run third another 1 ¾ lengths away. The winning time was a slow 1min 13.47secs for the 1200m in the rain-affected Polytrack.

Chavez, who bagged a hat-trick of wins with Za’eem, Raheeb and Carnelian on Friday, was taking his score to 24 winners for the year, but the win counter may soon stop ticking over with the non-renewal of his licence. He won 33 races last year.

Tan for one was pleased to have linked up with the Panamanian-born jockey for a double with two meetings left in the current season.

“Oscar rode both horses a treat. It’s a double for both of us, but we’ve also had a lot of success together over the years, including Conflight in the first Leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge (Group 3 Dester Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint over 1200m) last year,” said the Singapore champion trainer who has, however, already handed the crown to Mark Walker this year.

“White Coffee is old but he wins every now and then. As for Xiong Fong, he fell down at the stables after his last run, and I’m glad he’s bounced back.

“It was nothing serious, just some cuts on the butt area, but I explained to the owner we should give him a short break just so he gets over it.

“I gave him one barrier trial and today, I think the yielding track also helped him. He loves soft tracks.”

Chavez concurred with Tan that Xiong Fong grows another leg when he runs on water.

“With the rain, there was no other place to be – in front, or we would die trying,” said Chavez.

“When Duric came up, I let him dictate as I would have jeopardised my chances if I used my horse to lead.

“In the straight, I picked him up, but I couldn’t see anything as my helmet was dropping over my eyes, and I had to let go of my goggles in the last bit.

“But luckily, my horse took off again and he was just too good in the end.”

With that second win in 11 starts, Xiong Fong has returned close to $85,000 in prizemoney for his owner, the Forty Nine Stable.