Zaki’s Double Joy At Kranji

'First at work - last to leave'

Jockey Mohd Zaki enjoyed a red-letter day in the saddle after outsider Groovy won the SG$50 000 Class 4 race, the lucky last, to make it a double at Kranji on Sunday.

Prior to his victory on the four-year-old son of Swiss Ace, the Malaysian hoop scored on the Daniel Meagher-trained Lim’s Force ($31) in the Class 5 Division 1 race (1200m) two races earlier.

Zaki had only one win this season before Sunday’s meeting but was rewarded for his hard work and underrated riding skills.

Groovy (Mohd Zaki) edges past Golden Brown (Ryan Curatolo) to score (Pic – STC)

His win on the Richard Lim-trained Groovy showed Zaki, often labelled a better jockey on on-pace horses, was just as adept when asked to ride quietly from the wide barrier no. 11.

Upon jumping, Zaki quickly eased Groovy to the rear and settled second last in a race led by Southern Speed (Ruan Maia) that looked like it could suit backmarkers.

Groovy was still looking for clean air back in the ruck at the 400m and with $20 favourite Golden Brown (Ryan Curatolo), who was placed one-back on the rails, a ‘live’ chance when turning for home, it looked impossible for Zaki to pull off a double.

Golden Brown went for home at the 250m and quickly put a gap on the chasing pack while Zaki still had about four lengths to make up at the 150m.

Things changed quickly, though, after Groovy grew wings late under Zaki’s hard-riding to swoop down on the tiring Golden Brown in the shadows of the post before getting up by a neck in a thrilling finish.

Per Incrown (Luis Corrales) stayed on well to finish another one-and-a-quarter lengths away in third. The winning time was 1 min 11.12 secs for the 1200m on the Polytrack.

With five wins and six placings in 27 starts, Groovy has taken his earnings to more than $140,000 for the Trips D Stable.

Zaki was overjoyed with the double and thankful for the opportunities in tough times.

“I’m very happy and surprised,” said Zaki.

“When I looked at the handicaps, I thought it would be very hard to ride one winner, much less a double.

“Especially Groovy as he was drawn wide. My instruction from Richard, who I have to thank for supporting me, was to ride back. So, I had to ride him for luck.

“He (Groovy) was off the bit early and never travelled well, so I thought we had no chance, but I kept on pushing him and when he hit the homestraight, he had a burst which surprised me.

“I thought we had a chance as my horse was going really fast and the leader (Golden Brown) was stopping in the last 150m. So I just kept riding hard in the last 50m and the horse did the rest.

“I want to thank my wife (Nur Alyaa Najwa) and family who supported me whether I win or lose, and to Singapore Turf Club for supporting me. But most of all, I need to thank Daniel.

“When (ex-Kranji trainer) Shane (Baertschiger) left Singapore, I wasn’t sure who would support me.So when Daniel asked me to ride work for him and said he would support me with some rides, I was so thankful. Without Daniel, I would have nothing and I thank God he gave me the opportunity to keep riding.”

Meagher was equally glowing in his praise of Zaki who works harder than most.

“First at work, last to leave,” said the multiple Group 1-winning trainer of the natural lightweight rider.

“I’ve known him (Zaki) for 20 years and when ‘Stretch’ (Baertschiger) left, I knew Zaki would need support.He’s very loyal and I knew he would be an asset to the stable. I was glad he jumped at the opportunity to ride for us.He’s honest, can ride light and I know the whole stable will be pumped he rode another winner for us. All the more so as that was Lim’s Force’s (x Foxwedge) last run. She retires to France now to live a good life in the paddocks and it was great that Zaki sent her out a winner.”

With 10 wins and seven placings in 69 starts, the 10-year-old mare has amassed over $210,000 in prizemoney for the Lim’s Stable.

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