Apprentice Tengku Rehaizat’s road to redemption began on an encouraging note when he booted home a winner at his first day from a lengthy ban on Friday night.
Riding second favourite ($13) Won’t Stop for trainer Leslie Khoo in the $95,000 Open Benchmark race over 1400m on the Short Course, Rehaizat could not hide his delight when he found his way back to the winner’s circle, a place he had not visited since Noble Knight on September 16 last year.
Desmond Koh’s talented apprentice still finished third on the ladder on 13 winners, 24 behind new champion Shafiq Rusof, despite seeing his run halted by the untimely three-month suspension for the rest of the season. Rehaizat was handed the ban for failing to ride Alvito “with sufficient vigour and determination” in a race last September.
Booked by Khoo mainly to give Won’t Stop a three-kilo relief on his allotted 54.5kg, Rehaizat said he had to waste hard to tip the scales at the required handicap.
“After not riding for so long my weight had ballooned. I weighed 56kg last week,” he said.
“I went jogging and I was able to come down to 51.4kg. I didn’t want to miss such a good ride.
“The horse is such a fighter. Like his name says, he just won’t stop, especially when other horses come next to him.
“I bounced him out quickly to get a good position early. He was able to cross to the lead and from there, I just made sure he ran within his own steam.
“The horse did everything by himself. He fought on very bravely in the home straight.
“He was getting tired in the end. If the other horse (Cash Luck) had not been taken out by John (Sundradas) he would have won.”
After settling worse than midfield, the Michael Freedman-trained Cash Luck, a possible Dubai-bound runner for Singapore, had to be peeled out wide to get a clear run. Once he found daylight, he powered home and looked like he could overhaul Won’t Stop, who was stopping in the concluding stages, but the winning post came too early for him.
Won’t Stop, a former Malaysian-based sprinter, was at his first success on grass at Kranji and his grand first over 1400m. His previous three wins in Singapore were recorded on Polytrack (1100m to 1200m) but he did have two wins on grass in Malaysia to his name.
The Testa Tossa four-year-old has amassed stakes earnings close to $265,000 for Madam Leong Phooi Yee and has been aimed by Khoo at this year's Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, but not beyond the mile of the Patron’s Bowl (second Leg) on June 24.
For the runner-up, it was mixed feelings as victory over a distance which was regarded too short for him could have eventuated with a bit more luck. Deputising for Freedman who is still in Canada on holidays, senior track rider James Peters was ruing the fact John had to switch out wide for his run.
“We missed by this much,” said Peters. “If he had not been taken out he could have won.
“I think if it was on a Long Course, the result could have been different as well, but it was still a great run.”
Favourite Rapido Star ($12) was caught wide throughout the journey and lacked acceleration in the home straight but still plugged on gamely for third more than half-a-length away from the winner for jockey Joao Moreira.