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Ghalib and Nunes a winning combination

3 minute read

Even a cursory glance at the formbook would suggest the Steven Burridge-trained Ghalib is the horse to beat in Saturday’s $100,000 Kranji Stakes A race over 1100m Polytrack.

GHALIB winning the KRANJI STAKES A Picture: Singapore Turf Club

The four-year-old son of I Am Invincible won well in a similar affair last start on 17 February with Manoel Nunes onboard, and the five-time Singapore champion jockey retains the plumb ride Saturday.

Significant given the Ghalib /Nunes combination has been seen at the races six times for five wins, suggesting punters will not miss the rising sprint star as he looks to make it six wins from 10 career starts for the Al-Arabiya Stable.

Add a winnable weight (55.5kgs) from barrier one, and Ghalib looks a proverbial ray of sunshine on a somewhat otherwise gloomy afternoon filled with some tough races for form analysts and enthusiasts alike.

As you would expect, Nunes has a full book of ten-rides on the day but the Brazilian ace was quick to point out that Ghalib was easily his best chance to keep his 2024 win tally ticking over.

"It's a tough card but Ghalib will go well," said Nunes, who currently sits in second place on the 2024 jockeys' premiership with 24 wins, two behind compatriot Bruno Queiroz on 26.

"Obviously it's the best race on the card and Ghalib won well the last time in this type of field with 53kgs.

"So, he only has to carry two-and-a-half kilos more and I think that is a very good weight for him.

"I rode him at his recent trial (finished second to Pacific Emperor in trial no 1 on 4 April) and he trialled very well. And I galloped him Tuesday and he looks in very good shape.

"It's a small field, that will suit, and he has drawn the inside (barrier one), so no reason why he won't run very well."

Regarding race tactics and the dangers, Nunes suggests the early speed expected will help his cause, with the top-rated horse, Pacific Emperor, one to watch at the race conditions.

"My horse (Ghalib) is a very straightforward type," he continued.

"He just jumps and puts himself into the race, which makes my job easier.

"I would imagine Sky Eye will cross from gate six and set a good pace. Maybe even (apprentice jockey) Jerlyn (Seow) on Pacific Hero or General Command could try and lead.

"But I will just let it unfold up front and hopefully get cover just behind the leaders.

"You have to respect horses like The August and Sacred Gift – they are always a winning chance in races like this – but Pacific Emperor is the one I will be watching closely.

"He (Pacific Emperor) drops back from the mile to 1100m, but he trialled (and won) against Ghalib the other day and he looked good.

"Gets in well at the race conditions too with 57kgs, so must respect him for sure.

"But again, my guy (Ghalib) has really matured under (trainer) Steven (Burridge). And while he has won over 1400m (Class 3 on 14 January), I told (owner) Mansoor (Gandhi of the Al-Arabiya Stable) that he is a sprinter.

"I think he may even be competitive in races like the (Group 1) Lion City Cup (1200m) in July (28) if he keeps improving".

Of his other seven rides, Nunes thought most races looked hard to assess on paper and the winners may be those who get the rub of the green.

"To be honest, it's hard to be confident in most of the other races," he explained.

"Horses like Laksana (x Wandjina) ($30,000 Class 5 race over 1700m) are in the right grade and hopefully I can win another race for (trainer) Stephen (Gray).

"And Hole In One (x Spieth) looks a nice horse. I think he is also in the right race ($50,000 Class 4 race over 1200m), but he is first up after a long break (last raced 23 September 2023).

"But in saying that, (trainer) Ricardo (Le Grange) always has them fit and I liked what I saw at his recent trial (finished second to Sky Eye in trial no 2 on 2 April).

"He (Hole In One) has a nice gate (two) and 54kgs looks a good weight for him. The race doesn't look overly strong, so he may have the class to win first-up."

Singapore Turf Club

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