Kranji On Saturday: Super Salute For Nunes

Gr3 Merlion Trophy is the feature

Four-time Singapore champion jockey Manoel Nunes had been associated with more than half the field of runners in the SG$110,000 Gr3 Merlion Trophy at Kranji on Saturday, but he has now chosen to take the reins on Super Salute.

Among the 12 runners in the Merlion Trophy, Nunes had ridden on eight of them before and won with six of them.

Renzo and Gold Ten Sixty-One were the only two gallopers that Nunes had not won on, while the well-travelled jockey tasted success with Mimosa, Major King, Illustrious, Lucky Jinsha, General Command and, of course, Super Salute.

Super Salute (Manoel Nunes) is looking for his third Group win on Saturday (Pic – Singapore Turf Club)

This gave Nunes the best insight into the Polytrack feature race with his intimate knowledge of most of the runners. He also shed some light on his top pick.

“Yes, I have ridden most of them, haven’t I?” laughed Nunes when quizzed on Thursday.

“All of them are lovely horses and they should be very competitive in this race. But some of those rides were a while ago, so realistically, I had a choice of three, Super Salute, General Command and Major King, for Saturday.

“I hope I’m not wrong, but I chose Super Salute straightaway.

“To me, he is the class horse. Not taking away anything from the others, but at this stage, he is the best horse in the race.

“Obviously his best trip is 1400m on the turf – he showed that by winning those Group races, Gr2 EW Barker Trophy and Gr3 Silver Bowl – but I think his class will carry him through a race like this.

“His first two wins in Singapore were on the Polytrack and while they were in Class 4, he always trialled well and worked well on the surface, so I don’t think he loses too much racing on the Polytrack.

“My horse, Super Salute, is really well. I did pacework on him on Tuesday and he’s fresh and happy. I’m excited to see what he does on Saturday.”

On paper, it seemed to be a no-brainer that the Brazilian hoop picked the Richard Lim-trained galloper.

The top-rated (97) Super Salute got in best at the weight-for-age conditions where all other 11 runners, regardless of their ratings, will carry 57.5kgs.

Furthermore, the son of I Am Invincible had claimed the EW Barker Trophy and the Silver Bowl this year, albeit they were run over 1400m on the turf.

The Australian-bred five-year-old has a record of two from three wins on the all-weather track, which were both over the 1200m, so the surface and trip in the Merlion Trophy should not be an issue.

Anyone looking for chinks in Super Salute’s armour in the Merlion Trophy will point out he can be a tardy starter and has drawn wide in gate 10, but Nunes was quick to turn the negatives into positives.

“I would have preferred to draw gate four or five,” he said.

“But as you know, he can miss the kick, so gate 10 may be better than getting into trouble early from an inside draw.

“There is a good run from the backstraight to the bend, so I should be able to find a position. You take what hand you are dealt, but I don’t think it’s a bad one.”

Of his opposition, Nunes suggested Pacific Emperor and Surpass Natural were the dangers, while Major King and Renzo were also in the mix.

“I haven’t ridden Pacific Emperor, but he looks to be a nice horse with plenty of upsides,” said Nunes.

“He beat us the last time, in a Class 1 race over 1200m on 23 September, but we lost a length at the start and fought hard to the wire to be beaten only by half-a-length.

“We also gave them weight (six-and-a-half-kilos), so that is to our advantage at weight-for-age conditions.

“I thought Surpass Natural was impressive first-up (ran third in a Class 2 race over 1200m on 7 October) when he flew home, so I respect him too.

“Of those I know better, I think General Command might be better over 1000m or 1100m. But Major King is at the top of his game and he loves the Polytrack and 1200m. He will go well for jockey Bruno Queiroz and trainer Jason Ong’s stable is flying.

“I never won on Renzo before but trainer Ricardo Le Grange had him going better than ever. He struggled to get out of Class 4 but his Class 3 win on 30 September was very impressive.”

Kranji horseracing continues on Saturday with the first due off at 06h00.

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