Mauritian jockey Nooresh Juglall could not have hoped for a better way to celebrate his 100th Kranji winner. It came in the $200,000 Gr3 Garden City Trophy (1200m) aboard his pet horse Rafaello on Sunday.
Fittingly, the milestone was achieved with the helping hand of his biggest supporter yet again, trainer Patrick Shaw, who has been a true solider to Juglall at his successful three seasons in Singapore since moving from South Africa as an apprentice jockey just out of his time in 2014.
From Juglall’s fairytale start at his very first ride, Majestic Moments to his first Group win, the Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1600m) with Magneto a few months later, the South African has really been instrumental to Juglall’s rise to the top of the riding echelon at Kranji.
Shaw also supplied his second ‘black-type’ win with Perfect P in the Group 3 New Year Cup (1900m) earlier this year, and now for this double cherry on the top to their fruitful association.
“To win 100 at Kranji means a lot to me, to win a Group 3 race and to do it for Pat is even better,” said Juglall.
“Pat and his owners have been my biggest supporters from Day 1 but I must also thank the other trainers who have supported me over the years, like Leslie Khoo, John O’Hara and HK (Hor Khoon) Tan.
“I thought Rafaello had a big chance in this race as he keeps improving with each run. The pace was on and it suited him.
“He just keeps getting better and better. When I saw Wimbledon go off the track, I was quite confident as he was to me the horse to beat.
“When he hit the front, he just does enough to win. He is not the sort to win by a big margin.
“I’ve ridden some good horses for Pat. Majestic Moments is no doubt my favourite even if I have narrowly missed so many Group 1 wins with him but Rafaello is also a special horse to me as I’ve now ridden him at all his seven wins.”
Shaw had said before the race that he could not fault Rafaello going into the race, but besides the respect he held for resuming star galloper Spalato, he was worried about Wimbledon, who was much better off at the weights on 50.5kgs in relation to their last encounter on August 5 when they were seven kilos apart and they now gave him two kilos after they beat him by only three parts of a length.
When Spalato was scratched early on Monday, that was one hurdle out of the way.
But when Wimbledon (Corey Brown) suddenly lost the plot from the backstraight to head straight for the outside rails, virtually putting him out of the race, Shaw could begin rubbing his hands, even if he also had an eye on his second runner, Australian import Eclair Choice (Barend Vorster).
“There was some genuine concerns about the weights with regards to Wimbledon, but then, he was out of the equation when he just ran off for Corey,” said Shaw.
“We always rated him (Rafaello) as a nice horse but we had to put him away after he bled. He has come back better and stronger.
“I was also happy with the other horse’s (Eclair Choice) run and I’m sure he will improve from that. He needs longer.”
Aimed at the Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1400m) on September 18, the former handy Adelaide galloper was at his debut for Shaw in the Garden City Trophy and looked all poised to pick up the big prize off the back of a charmed run on the rails as a providential gap just presented itself in the home straight.
But Lincoln Road (Glen Boss) was finishing a touch better on his outside, not without taking the run of weakening race-leader Sebas, who nearly dislodged his rider Kif Toh at the 200m.
It was, however, Rafaello who had yet to chime in. Not to be outdone in the sudden scramble to the wire, he got into overdrive on the outside, dashing to the line manfully before holding sway to score by half-a-length from Lincoln Road.
Raise No Doubt (Vlad Duric) rushed late onto the scene to finish third another 1 ¼ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 10.34secs for the 1200m on the Short Course.
Owned by Fred Crabbia, Rafaello, a four-year-old has now posted seven wins – all with Juglall aboard – from 16 starts for stakes earnings past the $410,000 mark.
Interestingly, the winner’s Australian-bred sire should not be confused with Avontuur’s international stakes winner producing hero by the same name – who is Irish bred.
Rafaello is by champion Mungrup Stud sire Oratorio (Aus) out of the Exceed And Excel mare, Born Bold, a half-sister to Sydney stakes winner Citirecruit (Citidancer).
He was a $47 500 graduate from Yarradale Stud at the 2014 Perth Magic Millions.
Juglall’s moment of glory was marred by a suspension of two days for careless riding aboard Rafaello.