Duric makes it win No 400 on Mr Hanks

Singapore champion jockey Vlad Duric hit win No 400 with the James Peters-trained Mr Hanks on Sunday.

Beginning the weekend on the 398 win mark, the Victorian jockey knew the new mark would be unlikely on Friday night given his booking of only two rides, who were not exactly certainties in their respective races, Kranji Gold and Julius Caesar.

With a solid book of eight rides on Sunday on the other hand, including many top picks, Duric was more confident that would be his day - and he duly got the landmark out of the way after only three rides. 

Mr Hanks (Vlad Duric, No 2) edges out Elise (Benny Woodworth, obscured) to score in Race 3, picture Singapore Turf Club

After favourite Heartlight inched him closer in the opener, he stayed put on 399 with the unplaced Gridiron in the next race before $13 favourite Mr Hanks’ well-timed neck-win in the $60,000 War Affair 2015 Stakes, a Class 4 Premier race over 1200m turned provider.

A winner of over 1,200 races from a riding career that began in the late 80s in Victoria, the 40-year-old is at his sixth season at Kranji. After a promising Singapore debut in 2009, he never finished worse than second at his next five seasons - finishing runner-up to Joao Moreira in 2010 and 2011, Manoel Nunes in 2016 at his comeback from a five-year hiatus, before turning kingpin himself by winning the supreme prize last year, a first champion jockey title which no doubt ranked high with his previous big acclaim, the Caulfield Cup with Master O’Reilly in 2007.

Duric was taking it all in at the winner’s circle after jumping off Mr Hanks, thanking the support he has enjoyed since his comeback, while also adding the competition is getting tougher at Kranji, even if he currently sits on top on 37 winners, seven clear of Michael Rodd.

“It’s great. 400, that’s a lot of winners,” he said.

“I’m really chuffed it’s come for Oscar Racing Stable, a great supporter of mine and also for James who is a good mate.

“I love racing here, but this year has been tougher. I’m struggling with my weight, but I just have to keep chipping away.”

Peters said the early blistering pace set by tearaway leader Elise (Benny Woodworth) played into the hands of his charge, who was dropping in class after struggling in the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge.

“This horse was a very good two-year-old but was disappointing in the 3YO series,” said the English conditioner.

“He also drew wide barriers, but today he was in a perfect race and got a perfect barrier (two). There was a lot of speed to the race and he tried very hard to the line.”

Mr Hanks still spotted Elise around four lengths at the top of the straight, but the margin dwindled steadily with Duric no doubt riding with renewed vigour with that win No 400 in his sights.

Eastiger (Daniel Moor) and El Chapo (William Pike) warmed up to the task inside the last furlong, but too late as it turned out, settling for third and fourth place, another two lengths and half-a-length respectively.

The winning time was 1min 9.79secs for the 1600m on the Polytrack. Mr Hanks has now taken his record to three wins from six starts for prizemoney edging closer to the $200,000 mark.