Le Grange Has A New Kid On Kranji’s Block

First due off @ 06h00 on Saturday

Brazilian jockey Carlos Henrique will make his riding debut in Singapore at Kranji on Saturday and the well-travelled hoop has been booked on seven rides at the 11-race meeting, including Sayonara in the opener, a SG$30,000 Class 5 Division 1 race (1400m).

Coincidentally, all seven rides were given by one trainer, Ricardo Le Grange.

Brazilian jockey Carlos Henrique soaks up the Kranji atmosphere on Thursday morning at his maiden visit to the Lion City (Pic – STC)

One might think the duo have known each other for a long time for the South African handler to show strong support for the newest kid on Kranji’s block at his first meeting, but the pair only met each other on Tuesday and the new partnership was made possible with the help of fellow Brazilian jockeys Bernardo Pinheiro and Bruno Queiroz, directly and indirectly.

“I don’t know any trainers when I arrived,” explained the four-time Group 1-winning jockey, who made the bold move to Singapore after heeding advice from two ex-champion jockeys, Gerald Mossé and Alberto Sanna.

“At first, trainer Stephen Gray helped introduce me to the right people at the Singapore Turf Club to get me licensed, but I haven’t met him (Gray) in person since I only got here on Sunday.

“But I’ve been watching Ricardo for a while as jockey Bernardo Pinheiro rode for him last year and I followed him (Pinheiro) on social media.

“Le Grange and Pinheiro had a very successful partnership. I watched Hongkong Great’s win in the Gr1 QEII Queen Elizabeth II Cup last year with much interest and I understood Ricardo and Bernardo had a good friendship outside of racing, which I thought is important.

“So I was very excited when Ricardo first got in touch with me by text last week for the lightweight ride on Bestseller in the Gr3 Committee’s Prize next Saturday. I said ‘yes, of course!’

“Bruno brought me to the stables and Ricardo’s the first trainer I met earlier this week. I told him I was available for rides on Saturday and he surprised me again by booking me on seven rides.

“I don’t know much about the seven rides yet as we will be discussing tactics more in depth on Friday, but to have such a strong book of rides in my first week is a great opportunity to get off to a good start.

“I’m very grateful to Ricardo and the owners for believing in me.”

After kick-starting his career in Brazil, the 31-year-old jockey honed his skills in India and Germany followed by a stint in Bahrain, before his permanent move to Qatar in 2019.

Speaking of his decision to ride in Singapore, Henrique reckoned to be able to pit his skills against Brazilian and five-time Singapore champion jockey, Manoel Nunes, as well as other riders at Kranji will be another positive step in his 14-year career in the saddle.

“I’m always looking at different racing around the world that I think will improve me as a jockey,” said the natural lightweight rider who goes around at 50kgs.

“I had a nice job in Qatar but with advice from Gerald and Alberto, who are very close to me, Singapore looked to be the best place for me to be successful as a lightweight jockey.

“Bestseller is a good example of that. He looks like a very good chance on light weight in the Committee’s Prize and again, I’m so grateful to Ricardo for giving me the opportunity.

“I’m very much looking forward to riding against some very good jockeys. I have ridden against jockeys Marc Lerner in Germany and Ryan Curatolo in Qatar. My younger brother Fausto, who now rides in the US, has ridden against Manoel in Macau.

“I have heard a lot of good things about Nunes and again, I want to learn as much as I can while competing against the best jockeys in Singapore.

“I rode Tons Of Sand in the barrier trials and I was very impressed with the track. It is very safe and very beautiful.

“It’s my first time in Singapore and although I’ve only been here for a few days, it’s an amazing place. The people are nice and friendly and I’m already enjoying the new experience a lot.”

Henrique plans to make Singapore his home until the last race meeting on 5th October, which will see the running of the final Gr1 100th Grand Singapore Gold Cup.

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