If there was a ‘Ride of the Night’ award to be handed out in Singapore on Friday night, not many would have begrudged Noh Senari the nod for his incredibly cool ride on Wonderful Paint (NZ) (Darci Brahma).
The Darci Brahma grey is a noted backmarker, that’s a given. He had won all his three races in that fashion thus far, and with Noh in the plate at all of them.
For that reason, the bang-in-form jockey could perhaps be forgiven for his cockiness when they dawdled out to last on settling in the S$70,000 Kranji Stakes C race over 2000m, and remained there for most of the way.
But there was much beefier opposition in the way this time, and when race caller Luke Marlow said they were packing up coming to the home turn, and Wonderful Paint was still a conspicuous distant last, Noh was on a hiding to nothing, with one of trainer Leslie Khoo’s notorious sprays a most likely reception upon unsaddling.
Upfront, a wobbly Panache (Spinning World) was showing the white flag, but not his better-fancied stablemate Mr Dujardin (NZ) (High Chaparral) who promptly hit the front with a sweeping dash on the outside.
A few pegs back, Wonderful Paint had finally decided to leave the “paint”, but on the Short Course, the alarm bells that Noh might have left it too late had gone off and was reaching a crescendo for most of those who backed him off the map at $18.
On the inside, Majestic Empress (NZ) (Ekraar) could still settle the issue with a late sucker punch while Mr Dujardin was holding sway doggedly, but Noh had timed the moment he sets his mount alight with clockwork precision.
The fact that Wonderful Paint is a grey probably embellished the grandstand finish even more as he came motoring home with a sizzling turn of speed.
He did lay in a touch under pressure, but he never wilted and eventually went on to post a soft three-quarter length victory on Mr Dujardin. Majestic Empress had to settle for third place another neck away.
Currently caught in a close tussle with last year’s champion jockey Vlad Duric and his runner-up Michael Rodd, Noh (tied with Duric on 11 winners but second on a countback for seconds) said the brazen ride might have tested some nerves, but he said he was on top of things right through.
“Leslie told me to just let him relax at the back and that’s exactly what I did,” said Noh.
“I was still last coming to the home turn, but I knew what I had under me. I knew he would run by himself once I get him going.”
Khoo, himself a former top jockey, took his hat off to Noh for his flawless display, even if he did have some butterflies two furlongs out.
“I have to admit I panicked a bit before the home turn. It was the plan to settle and relax him at the back, but he was a little too far and at the top of the straight, he had not moved yet!” said Khoo.
“But the boy was smart enough to know what he was doing. Once he took the horse out for daylight, he finished very strongly.”
Khoo said he was seriously considering plotting a path towards the Singapore Derby (1800m) on July 21 for Wonderful Paint, who has now taken his stats to four wins from eight runs for prizemoney closing in on the S$100,000 mark for the Paint Stable. -STC