Chairman gives Pike first win in Singapore

Leading Perth jockey William Pike did not let his second chance to ride a winner in Singapore go begging on Sunday.

The eight-time Perth champion jockey paid his first visit at the Patron’s Bowl meeting on June 18, coming up with a second place aboard Little Big Man on the undercard as his best performance from five rides. His main assignment, Lim’s Samurai in the Group 1 Patron’s Bowl (1600m), the second pin of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, ran eighth.

Trainer Laurie Laxon had actually booked the 31-year-old for two meetings on the same Japanese-bred son of Samurai Heart, the second mission being logically in the grand final, the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (2000m).

Chairman outbattles his rivals under the strong urgings of William Pike to score his first win at Kranji, picture Singapore Turf Club

With six more rides (including a pick-up ride on Lim’s Knight) to enhance his chances at that first visit to the Kranji winner’s box, Pike was right on target at his second ride this time around, Chairman, in the $80,000 Hello New York Stakes, a Kranji Stakes C race over 2000m.

Earlier on, Little Big Man, on whom he was hoping to go one better, was well beaten in sixth place in the $60,000 Hello Moscow Stakes, a Class 4 Division 2 race over 1400m.

But two races later, the two-time Perth Cup-winning jockey could finally include Singapore as a second overseas feather to his cap after Hong Kong.

Bouncing Chairman fairly quickly out of the machine, Pike promptly settled the Irish-bred Thai-owned son of Galileo, outside the leader The Capital (Barend Vorster), also sporting the light blue colours of the Falcon Racing No 7 Stable, but prepared by trainer Ricardo Le Grange.

The order did not change much up to the point of the turn when Pike decided it was time to get a wriggle on, sensing that The Capital was about to capitulate.

Le Grange’s last-start winner Mighty Emperor (Vlad Duric) was in hot pursuit on the outside, but Chairman never showed any signs of letting-up as he kept whacking way under Pike’s hard riding.

Favourite El Don (Glen Boss) loomed large on the outside, but his turn of foot was not as sharp this time. Le Grange, who saddled a four-pronged attack in the race, fired a last salvo with his remaining pair of Iron Man (Nooresh Juglall) and Mighty Kenny (John Powell), but to no avail.

Pike had his first Singapore sling in the bag as Chairman held sway right up to the end, holding off Iron Man by half-a-length with Golazo (Derreck David) third another head away. The winning time was 2min 4secs for the 2000m trip of the race considered as the Derby “consolation stakes”.

“It’s great to get the opportunity (to ride here) a second time. I had tricky draws the last time I was here, but I sure enjoyed my visit,” said Pike.

“I’m of course glad I got my first winner here in Singapore, but I’ve still got a few more rides to go, including the big one for Mr Laxon later on.

“Mr Laxon and (assistant-trainer) Shane (Ellis) were adamant this horse had to be on the pace. He is very tough and he ran his race pretty much the same way as last time.

“I hit the front a long way from home and it was a bit worrying but he dug deep for the win.”

Laxon was delighted with not only Pike’s first Kranji salute on one of his horses, but for renewing winning ties with the Thai owner Krit Chisatteni after a very long time.

“This is not my first winner for Krit. We had a lot of success before with horses like Magnum Force and Tomwatha,” said the nine-time Singapore champion trainer who has announced he was soon calling it a day in Singaproe to return to his native New Zealand to continue his training career.

“Krit has spread his horses with many trainers and it’s a well-deserved win for him.

“The horse was pretty fit. We actually entered him in the Derby but he could not make the cut-off points.”

Ellis, who has been instrumental in bringing his fellow Western Australian Pike to Kranji, was pleased the race tactics they had come up with had paid off.

“The horse is a one-pacer and the plan was to keep him rolling. Willie rode him a treat,” said Ellis.

“He didn’t have much luck with the draws at his last visit, but he rode all of them very well.”

Formerly known as Cole Porter when prepared by Irish champion trainer Aidan O’Brien for the Coolmore conglomerate, Chairman came to Singapore with a record of one win over 2400m at Leopardstown in five starts.