Leading trainer Mark Walker and his apprentice jockey Zawari Razali enjoyed a great night at the office on Friday night.
While Walker, who is currently overseas, took the training honours with a hat-trick of wins courtesy of Lim’s Signature, Clutha Lad and Viviano, Zawari chalked up a perfect score with his two-from-two aboard his master’s Lim’s Signature and Viviano to share the riding honours with Nooresh Juglall who also knocked in a brace with Board Walk and Bandido.
That big haul has now given Walker, the 2015 Singapore champion trainer, a bit of breathing space between him and second-placed Tan, the reigning champion, in this year’s premiership battle. Walker sits atop on 44 winners, nine clear of Tan.
Walker’s assistant-trainer Gus Clutterbuck (pictured above) said the yard is only reaping the fruit of the whole team’s labour, lauding their Malaysian apprentice jockey in particular.
“Thank you to the staff and the jockey. We can’t do it on our own,” said the New Zealander, himself a successful trainer in his own right back home before he joined Walker in Singapore.
“Young Zawari didn’t panic at both wins, especially at the second one. The fast pace suited him and they worked their way well into the race.
“We’re lucky to have such a good horse (Viviano). He’s an honest little horse.
“He is a horse going through his grades, but Class 1 is very different as you know. One thing for sure is he will always try his best.”
Viviano ($22), who races in the famous yellow, purple and white checked sleeves of Malaysian tycoon Dato Yap Kin San, dropped to the rear at barrier rise to see all for the best part of the six-furlong trip of the $100,000 Open Benchmark 83 event.
Upfront, Conflight (Oscar Chavez) led but never had much respite from a horde of horses nipping at his heels halfway through the race, including favourite Constant Justice (Alan Munro) and Wonderful (Syafiq Hazman).
As the 10-horse field swung for home to greet the judge, Conflight, already flat as a pancake, was easily gobbled up – he eventually ran last, his erstwhile brilliant three-year-old form now a distant memory – with Constant Justice giving his legion of backers plenty to cheer about as he charged to the frontline 300m out.
But Mohd Yusof’s ward could not quite draw clear to that safety zone, just hanging on to his untenable advantage as the pressure from the swoopers came pouring from everywhere.
Kolombia (Nooresh Juglall) and Nova Warrior (John Sundradas) were also hovering around, but not quite with that sucker punch that could seal the race.
It was only at the 250m that the realisation of a horse steaming home on the outside suddenly hit home.
Given his full head by Zawari, Viviano shot past his rivals one after another to go and post a one-length victory from the fast-finishing Elite Star (Barend Vorster), who was first-up from a five-month spell.
Constant Justice had to settle for third place another half-a-length away. The winning time was 1min 9.77secs for the 1200m on the Short Course.
With the riding double taking his tally to 11 winners, Zawari now sits only three winners shy of 2016 Singapore champion apprentice jockey and current leader Wong Chin Chuen (on 14 winners).
“I would like to thank my boss Mark Walker for his support and for putting me on two good horses tonight,” he said.
“I never rode this horse (Viviano) in a race before, but I worked him and he galloped very well this week. He gave me a very good feel.
“In the race, I dropped him at the rear, but he was very strong. The horse to beat was Constant Justice and I always had an eye on him.
“At the 400m, I let my horse improve and he started to come into the race very well. I chose to go to the outside as I didn’t want to get caught in the traffic on the inside.
“He finished very well on the outside and when he went past Constant Justice, I knew we would win.”
With a record that now proudly reads seven wins and two placings from 20 starts, Viviano has amassed more than $360,000 in prizemoney for the Raffles Racing Stable.