The Singapore Turf Club has granted one-day visiting jockey’s licences to four jockeys for the upcoming feature race meetings next week. William Pike is booked to ride King Louis in the Group 3 Ultima El Dorado Classic on September 20 while Bernardo Pinheiro, Damian Lane and Mark Zahra are booked to ride Mr Clint, Blizzard and Mister Yeoh respectively in the Group 1 Raffles Cup on September 22.
Perth multiple-champion jockey William Pike, 33, is a regular short-term visitor to Singapore, often engaged by local trainers to ride at feature race meetings. He will be at his 10th visit.
Though he has yet to score any feature win at Kranji, Pike does have four winners on the board - Chairman, Mr Crowe, King Of War and Really Capable, all earned in 2017.
The closest to winning a big race was that same year when second in the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby and Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup with Lim’s Samurai and Bahana respectively.
Pike has racked up more than 2,000 winners in 16 seasons of riding. A former champion apprentice jockey, he has gone on to win 11 Perth champion jockey titles, the latest one earned last season. He currently sits in second place in the just-started premiership.
Pike has seven Group 1 winners, namely two Perth Cups and two Railway Stakes, and 51 at Group 2 and 3 level to his name. Besides Singapore, Pike did ride in Hong Kong with success in 2009 and 2012.
Pike goes to scale at 54 kgs.
Bernardo Pinheiro is a 23-year-old Brazilian rider who is currently licensed in Malaysia by the Selangor Turf Club, Penang Turf Club and Perak Turf Club. He will be at his second Kranji visit, having finished second on the same Mr Clint in the Group 1 Singapore Derby in July.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Pinheiro rode his first winner at his first day of riding in November 2013. He quickly climbed through the Brazilian riding ranks on his way to two champion apprentice jockey titles in 2014 and 2015.
Well-travelled for his young age, Pinheiro has already recorded around 440 wins, including three in nearby Uruguay, 15 during two stints in Dubai in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons (won two Listed races at Meydan), one in Bahrain, and 25 in Malaysia where he currently sits in eighth spot on the premiership since he began his stint halfway through the season on July 6, 2019.
Among his career highlights is the Triple Crown with filly Perfect Bullet in Brazil, including the Group 1 Grande Premio Taca de Cristal at Porte Alegro, two Group 2 wins and six Group 3 wins. Besides three Listed races won across the Causeway, Pinheiro also claimed the Malaysian Group 1 Selangor Gold Cup (1600m) on the now Cliff Brown-trained Truson on August 11.
Pinheiro goes to scale at 53kgs.
Born in Bunbury in Western Australia, Damian Lane, 25, is the son of jockey Michael Lane. After beginning his career in Perth, he moved to Victoria on loan with trainers Matthew Ellerton and Simon Zahra in 2011, struggled initially, but soon hit his straps and has been on an upward spiral since.
In 10 years, Lane has booted home in excess of 1,000 winners, including 15 at Group 1 level, mostly at his home base in Melbourne, notably the 2014 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) (his first Group 1 win) with Trust In A Gust at Caulfield and the 2017 Australian Cup (2000m) with Humidor at Flemington, the 2017 Australian Derby (2400m) with Jon Snow and the 2017 Champagne Stakes (1600m) with The Mission, the latter two at Randwick in Sydney.
Overseas success is no stranger to Lane either, as he rode in Hong Kong for three months in 2015 and recently made a big impact in Japan, winning three Group 1 races there, namely the Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) with Lys Gracieux in Hanshin, the Victoria Mile (1600m) with Normcore in Tokyo and the local grade Group 1 Teio Sho (2000m) with Omega Perfume in Tokyo.
Lane currently sits in fifth spot on the Victorian Metropolitan jockeys’ premiership on six winners. Last season, he finished fifth on 36 winners.
Lane goes to scale at 56kgs.
Mark Zahra, 37, is another jockey who originally hails from Perth, but has now also established himself in Melbourne among the Top 10 in the last five years, finishing fourth on 43 winners last season.
After only one year on the Western Australian circuit, the then 19-year-old moved across country to Wodonga with trainer Brian Cox.
Zahra did not take long to get noticed by bigger players, going on to ride for global giant Darley in Melbourne, although he now rides freelance. He has up to now chalked up in excess of 1,150 winners, including 13 at Group 1 level.
Some of his career highlights include his winning association with Palentino in the 2016 Australian Guineas and the 2016 Makybe Diva Stakes, both run over the Flemington mile.
He also won Group 1 accolades outside of Melbourne, namely last year’s Ranvet Stakes (2000m) with Gailo Chop at Rosehill and the Australian Derby (2400m) with Levendi at Randwick.
Zahra is not at his first time riding in Singapore. He was licensed at Kranji in 2004 (12 wins) and 2005 (11 wins), riding a lot for John Meagher, who actually supplied him with his first Group 1 winner, Mayo’s Music in the 2004 Raffles Cup.
Internationally, Zahra has been making his mark representing Australia in jockeys’ series. He won two races in a jockeys’ challenge in Mauritius in 2016, helped Team Australia claim the Premier Gateway International Jockeys Challenge at Kranji last year, and last August, he won a race in the prestigious Shergar Cup in UK, landing the team title for the Rest of the World.
Currently eighth on four winners on the Victorian Metropolitan jockeys’ premiership, Zahra goes to scale at 56kgs.