Since her training debut in 2012, it’s the first time that Singapore’s first female trainer has ever specially hired an overseas-based jockey for a hit-and-run mission in a feature event.
Technically, Dragon didn’t have to sign any work permit paperwork, though. She was just piggybacking on Teetan’s main mission.
A regular big-race Kranji visitor since his Group 2 EW Barker Trophy heroics with Lim’s Cruiser in 2016, Teetan is flying in to ride Hong Kong raider Singapore Sling for trainer Tony Millard in the night’s showpiece, the $1.5 million Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m).
Dragon had been on the lookout for a jockey for his unbeaten stable star given regular partner John Powell would be on Bold Thruster and Joseph Azzopardi, who stood in for the indisposed Troy See at the last of the former Perth galloper’s five wins, is currently suspended. Michael Rodd who teamed up twice, was only replacing the suspended Powell, and besides, he will ride Mister Yeoh in the Lion City Cup.
A few names were in the mix, including a famous one she was instrumental in making famous, but Dragon was glad she secured the services of the Mauritian Magician as the South African-trained Teetan is known as at his Hong Kong base where he currently sits second to champion jockey Zac Purton – who will also be in our midst next week to ride Southern Legend in the Kranji Mile, among others.
“I actually asked Joao Moreira if he would be coming to ride at the Kranji Mile meeting a few weeks ago,” said Dragon who was the trainer who brought the Brazilian ace from obscurity to superstardom when she invited him to ride in Singapore in 2008.
“Joao said he was probably not coming. I heard Zac Purton was riding Lim’s Cruiser, and when I found out Karis was also coming to ride Singapore Sling, I offered him the ride on Nimble last weekend, and he accepted.
“I actually tried to book Karis a few times before, but he was then already on Stephen Gray’s horses. I’m glad I’ve finally got him.
“I think Karis will suit Nimble as he’s a horse who needs a shake-up in the home straight, and Karis is a very strong rider in a finish.”
Dragon said the four-year-old son of Patronize has done nothing wrong since his last win in a Class 2 race over 1100m on April 19, even if it is hard to assess his progress given his easy-going nature at trackwork.
Known as The Shoe in Perth where he scored only one win on debut in a 1200m race in country Pinjarra, Nimble has been an absolute revelation at his new home.
“All’s good with him. He’s been galloping well in his work since, which shows he has maintained his condition,” she said.
“He will actually trial tomorrow (Thursday). I thought he had put on a bit of condition and it’d be good for him to have a hit-out.”
At one stage, Dragon was in two minds between the Lion City Cup and the Group 3 Rocket Man Sprint (May 5) – which is a handicap race as opposed to the Lion City Cup which is a weight-for-age race - after Nimble ’s last victory, but decided to throw the dice in the country’s premier sprint race in the end.
“No doubt, it’ll be a big test at weight-for-age against top sprinters like Lim’s Cruiser and Bold Thruster,” she said.
“But he’s carried up to 59.5kgs once. He’s not a small horse and I think it will be the same playing field for everybody.”
Dragon will have even more time to focus on Nimble and his next week’s runners as she won’t be at the races this weekend, simply because she’s got no runners.
“It so happens that a few of my horses are going through a change of ownership and couldn’t run this week,” she explained.
“And at the same time, it was such that most horses were at the point of the 2-3 week cycle when they don’t run.
“It’s also given me a chance to look after my family at home, as they have all caught the flu at the same time, including me!”
Please note that the bookings of Teetan and Purton are still subject to the approval from the Singapore Turf Club’s licensing committee. The applications are in progress and a decision will be made shortly.