Local apprentice jockey Ng Choon Kiat was already happy to be back doing what he knows best on Friday night, but the smiles just got wider when he burst through the rails with a $336 pop at his very last ride.
Mark Walker’s apprentice jockey was out of the saddle for more than two months after dislocating his right elbow in a trackwork fall from Shamrock back in February. Ng was at his comeback meeting, pleasantly surprised to start with that he had been booked for four rides, never mind if none were among the movers and shakers as could be surmised from their three-figure odds, except for Cavatina ($87).
Desmond Koh’s galloper did run a nice third in the opener, but after Kashan ($242) and Sky ($393) duly ran nowhere, that first day back in the office was going to script for Ng. At least, Cavatina’s third place had put him back on the road and a bit of spare cash into his pocket.
Lim's Reform (Ng Choon Kiat) surges on the inside to gun Effortless (Matthew Kellady) down late, picture Singapore Turf Club
He still had one bullet left, though: Lim’s Reform in the penultimate event, the $80,000 Class 3 Division 1 race over 1000m.
Looking at the O’Reilly six-year-old’s also-ran efforts at his last four outings, Ng thought one more spin around would do his bid to recapture his peak fitness no harm.
At the 300m when Lim’s Reform began to spark up along the rails coming from near last, Ng, who had scored only win on Big Regards on New Year’s Day this year, suddenly thought he might not return home empty-handed after all.
Cliff Brown’s filly Filibuster (Nooresh Juglall) had shortened to $8 favouritism, but her legs were also shortening up at the 300m after being eye-balled by Stock Broker (Nuh Komari) for most of the way.
Ghost (Azhar Ismail) and Elite Power (Craig Grylls) on the outside and Effortless (Matthew Kellady) on the inside, were about to gobble Filibuster up, but hard up against the fence, a greyhound was railing through – Lim’s Reform who flashed home to knock them all down like ninepins.
Lim’s Reform got up by half-a-length from Effortless with Elite Power another half-a-length away in third place. Ghost had to settle for fourth place another neck away, with Filibuster in fifth place another head away. The winning time was 59.59 seconds for the 1000m dash on the Polytrack.
A gobsmacked Ng jumped off thanking the equally stunned connections from the Lim’s Stable for that unexpected manna from heaven.
“I don’t know this horse at all. I’ve never even ridden him in trackwork,” said Ng.
“He dropped back and I was able to get a spot on the fence midrace. After that, he travelled okay but at the top of the straight, when I gave him a squeeze, he started to quicken quite good.
“I was really surprised but I’m also very happy to get my first win at my first night back. It’s been tough with the elbow injury, but it’s behind me now and I hope to get more rides in weeks to come.”
Following such a faultless display, Walker would have to be hard to please to not give his apprentice jockey a few more leg-ups, even if during the race, he had his eyes scotched more on the better-fancied Elite Power (he also had the rank-outsider Hidden Promise who beat two home).
“I don’t think they went around any runners coming down the back,” said Walker.
“They got sucked up the fence. But I’m happy for CK as he just busted his elbow and it was his first night riding back.
“This horse was getting close to dropping in class, but you know these horses, they are always out there trying to win.
“He’s six now and he’s got his niggling problems, but Mr Lim (Siah Mong) is happy to take the cheque!”
Previously known as Damon, Lim’s Reform is the veteran of 39 starts for Walker, scoring the last of his previous four wins in Class 4 company in July 2017. That fifth success has now seen the New Zealand-bred tip over the $300,000 mark in terms of prizemoney.