Malaysian apprentice jockey Zawari Razali has always been coy about talking up his premiership chances, but a Sunday race-to-race double that brought him within a win of tying up with leader Wong Chin Chuen finally gave a hint of a slightly more can-do response.
“It’s still too early, but things are going well for me. If I keep getting on good horses like that, I think I have a good chance,” said the Kelantan-born rider.
“I have to thank my boss Mr Walker for supporting me with such good horses. I ride them in trackwork and he also puts me on them in the races.
“But CC is also a champion jockey and he also gets very good support. Many things can happen but it’s true I’m in a good position now.”
Zawari has always been more or less within touching distance from last year’s top rookie, but it’s only in the month of June that his stocks suddenly skyrocketed. Sunday’s brace with Hello Michelle and Star Genius in Races 3 and 4 took his tally to six wins for June alone, and 14 overall to sit only one win off Wong on 15 winners.
Only transferred to Walker recently after he spent some time with Sonny Yeoh following his former master Brian Dean’s relocation to South Korea, Zawari certainly owes his purple patch to his current master’s own flying form.
Star Genius was handing the New Zealander his 14th success for June. In the blink of an eye, his margin on last year’s champion Alwin Tan has leapt to 16 winners (51 versus 35), but the soft-spoken horseman said he was anything but home for a second title after the first captured in 2015.
“The horses are doing well, but it’s all a team effort. I was away for a while but I am lucky to have great staff like Gus Clutterbuck and Robbie Hewitson to look after the yard and admin staff led by Karen and Sharon,” said Walker.
“Zawari is also riding in such good form and that is for sure a big help to us.
“Star Genius and Hello Michelle have both been consistent mares for us. The key to mares is to keep them happy and they will race well for you.
“Star Genius took off in the straight. She put the break on them and she was gone.
“As for Hello Michelle, that’s the way to ride her. She is not very confident amongst horses, and the plan was to drop her back and let her come around the field.”
A former Singapore Golden Horseshoe series Leg winner, Hello Michelle (x Minstrel Court) can drop off the radar a little but the way she came from the rear to reel in her rivals in the $60,000 Spalato 2014 Stakes, a Class 4 race over 1100m, showed she can be hard to hold out when things go her way.
Backed down to $11 favouritism, Hello Michelle defeated Royal Guard (Matthew Kellady) by 2 ½ lengths with Leadership (Wong Chin Chuen) third another half-a-length away. The winning time was 1min 4.81secs for the 1100m on Polytrack.
Star Genius (x Starcraft) was a lot handier in the running of the $60,000 Super Easy 2013 Stakes (1200m), albeit overracing a touch, but once Zawari cut the ribbons, the $21 shot powered away to a 1 ¾ length-win from Muscular Dragon (Nurshahril Nordin) with Royal Diwan (Shafiq Rizuan) third another half-a-length away. The winning time was 1min 11.12secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.
“Star Genius had her head up a bit, but she was quite settled other than that,” said Zawari.
“But once I took to her to the outside, she quickened very well. Hello Michelle was a lot further back but I was not worried as I know she has a very good turn of foot when she takes off on the outside.”
With that fourth win, Hello Michelle has now taken her earnings past the $190,000 mark for the Synthetic Stable while Star Genius now sits on the $220,000 mark for the Genius Stable after that third win.