Nooresh Juglall had to earn every cent of his riding fee to bring home his first hat-trick of wins for the season on Sunday.
Records will show that it was Aeolus, Mystic Pride (the first two in lowly Maiden and Class 5 events) and Charger who provided the Mauritian jockey with the prolific haul, but it was more the workmanlike but effective way in showing how he knew where the winning post was that would draw the most appreciative nods of approval.
In the day’s opener, the $20,000 Class 5 race over 1400m, the Kuah Cheng Tee-trained Aeolus ($44) came with a well-timed run under Juglall’s hard-riding to finally break his duck at his 21st start after finding one better three times in a row at his last four runs.
Aboard $15 favourite Mystic Pride in the $20,000 Maiden race over 1400m, Juglall had the Daniel Meagher-trained son of Magic Albert poised to land a blow at the 400m, but with the latter inclined to duck in, he had to switch his whip to his left hand while ensuring Dragonite (Olivier Placais) did not run away from them.
But the pick of his rides would probably have to go to Charger’s last-gasp victory in the $80,000 Class 3 race over 1200m.
Juglall, who managed to steer the Dick Turpin colt to his second win last time out, was in a real pickle for most of the backstraight when the colt was seen pulling like a train between runners.
Race-leader Tales Of Summer, with replacement jockey Zy Nor Azman astride, was giving plenty of sight as he kept finding in the home straight, but most thought his days were numbered when leading hopes Mr Hanks (Vlad Duric) and Webster (Alan Munro) came thundering home.
Hard up against the rails, Tales Of Summer was, however, sticking to his guns and looking well bent on not being passed. Both Mr Hanks and Webster were letting down at full throttle, but just could not quite peg the tenacious leader back.
Just when Tales Of Summer looked to have all angles covered, $35 shot Charger sprang out of the pack, poking his head right on the line to deny him by the barest of margins. Webster had to settle for third place another half-length away. The winning time was 1min 9.67secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.
With that hard-fought treble in the bag, Juglall, who sat in ninth spot going into this weekend of racing at Kranji, has now leapt to fifth spot on 11 winners, only six shy of leader Vlad Duric, who fired blanks on Sunday.
“I thought he would lose today. He was pulling my arms off down the backstraight,” said Juglall.
“He’s a difficult horse to ride and down the backstraight, I really thought he was gone.
“It took me a good 500 metres to switch him off. I wanted to get him off the bridle as I thought he would then just come back for me better.
“He’s obviously still a bit of a colt, but he has a big heart. He should have won more easily if he didn’t pull so hard.
“A big thank you to the connections. They did all the hard work, I am just the pilot.”
By coincidence, the last time Juglall scored three winners, which was on January 29 last year, it took another Constance Cheng’s Toast Trust Stable galloper to also get the result by the skin of his teeth – Constance’s Spirit who came late onto the scene to beat Ahmar by a short head.
“I was not aware of that. Well, I hope Constance can give me more trebles!” said a beaming Juglall.
Kieser’s assistant-trainer Stephen Crutchley was certainly glad he had a strong heart as Charger came finishing locked together with Tales Of Summer on the line.
“I was a bit nervous at the end but he made it,” said the New Zealander.
“He is still a colt, but he doesn’t give us any trouble at home, which helps to carry on with him. He backs up pretty quickly.
“He will go for the 3YO series. I have to thank Constance for her support all these years.”
Charger has now racked up three wins and three placings from nine starts for prizemoney that has swollen past the $210,000 mark for the Toast Trusts & J Ho Stable.