Grylls gets Lucky at 15th ride at Kranji

It’s taken 15 rides, probably a little longer than he would have liked, but New Zealand jockey Craig Grylls was finally able to notch his first winner in Singapore on Friday.

Based at Kranji since the third week of July, the son of former top Kiwi jockey Gary Grylls – who rode in Bukit Timah in the later 80s – did not have much luck at his first four meetings with a third place aboard favourite Enhancement at his second meeting as his best placing to show for.

But the support has since improved, with a book of seven rides this weekend, including the plum ride aboard former Singapore Horse of the Year War Affair in the Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1800m) for fellow New Zealand trainer Bruce Marsh on Sunday.

Craig Grylls breaks through for his first win at Kranji aboard Uncle Lucky on Friday, picture Singapore Turf Club

It was that same Marsh who supplied him with a warm-up ride that in the end proved to be his ice-breaker – Uncle Lucky in Friday’s opening race, the $35,000 Class 5 race over 1100m.

One of the best away in the 12-horse field, Uncle Lucky overcame his second worst gate (11) to settle on the steel rather easily for Grylls.

The rest was just a matter of giving the Showcasing five-year-old a breather mid-race and as economical a run as possible upfront before snipping the tethers at the top of the straight.

Uncle Lucky ($28) immediately bounded away under Grylls’ stick, was cut back late by Lucky Boy (Azhar Ismail) but the half-length margin at the wire went to show how his jockey had timed the run to the minute.

The old Cool Cat (Wong Chin Chuen) warmed up late to finish third another 3 ¼ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 5.84secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack.

“It’s a great opportunity to come over here and ride. I’m really happy I got that first winner out of the way as the quality of rides wasn’t quite there in the first couple of weeks,” said the 27-year-old Matamata jockey.

“I’ve been getting good support from a few trainers, and it’s great I opened my account today. It’s onwards and upwards.

“Bruce was very confident that this horse goes well every time he drops in class. I tried to save him as much as I can, but he still got a bit tired in the end, though I knew he would be hard to beat when he kicked clear.

“I ride War Affair for Bruce on Sunday and that is another great opportunity I’m looking forward to.”

Marsh, who used to ride with Grylls’ grandfather Johnny when he was a jockey, was happy to see the grandson bring home one of his wards.

“Craig rode him very well. This horse is a free-running sort and has the early speed to come across,” said Marsh.

“At the top of the straight, he opened up a big break, and was just too good.”

With that third win from 19 outings, Uncle Lucky has now topped off his earnings by another $20,000 or so, to reach past the $65,000 mark for the Silver Spoon Stable.