Not Geste a roughie, says Thompson

The task is more daunting this time, but jockey Ben Thompson would certainly not mind seeing impressive debut winner Beau Geste give him yet another Singapore feature success in the $175,000 Group 3 Silver Bowl (1400m) this Sunday.

A relative unknown at Kranji until his cameo triumph with Mister Yeoh in the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1400m) last November, the young Australian jockey has gone on to firmly establish himself as a reliable pair of hands here.

He currently boasts a haul of 18 winners close to the halfway point of his first full season in Singapore, a more than adequate currency to that success.

Though only 22 years of age, the Victorian has also shown he could shoulder big-race pressure with a level head. Besides the Barker, he also landed the Group 3 Moonbeam Vase (1600m) last month with Elite Excalibur, who just like Mister Yeoh, is trained by Cliff Brown.

Thompson knew his hopes of adding a third silverware would have been greatly enhanced if he had stayed on Mister Yeoh - the likely favourite in the Silver Bowl, the newly-created first Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge - following their third in the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) two weeks ago.

But he also knew that Mister Yeoh would be Brown’s leading runner this time, and as such, no crowbar could prise stable jockey Michael Rodd off the son of Wanted.

“Mister Yeoh ran super in the Lion City Cup. I tried to stick with him in the Silver Bowl, but I knew Michael would be back on,” said Thompson.

“He’s the horse to beat for sure, especially at weight for age, but I’m quite happy with my ride on Beau Geste .”

Thompson said he was approached by trainer Mark Walker for the Beau Geste ride in the Silver Bowl, and after weighing up his options, rang back to confirm he would jump aboard the former Godolphin two-time winner (1100m and 1200m).

“I know he only won a Class 4 race (over 1200m on May 25), but it was a strong Class 4 and he ran very well. He’s much better than Class 4, anyway.

“In that race, I finished second on Easy Does It, a horse I rate highly – which adds even more merit to Beau Geste’s win.

“I knew Beau Geste from Australia. His two-year-old and three-year-old forms were very good.

“This is a big step-up for sure, but he’s a horse with exciting ability. When Mark asked me if I could ride him, I didn’t confirm right away as I had a few other options, but I in the end decided he would be a good ride.”

Thompson has already had the chance to test his Silver Bowl ride ahead of the real deal.

“I galloped him on the main track last Saturday, we did some pacework. He’s a lovely horse with a great nature,” he said.

“Typical of these ex-Godolphins, he’s well-schooled and is a real pleasure to ride.”

Earlier in the day, Thompson will be associated with a newbie in the second Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series – the Mok Zhan Lun-trained More Than Oil in the Thoroughbred Breeders Australia Centenary over 1100m.

“It’s an Unencumbered and he didn’t trial too badly,” he said.

“Three quarter of the field will be at their start, so we don’t really know what to expect. Fingers crossed he will be competitive.”

Since arriving in Singapore, Thompson has kept a foot in the door back home. Thompson, whose girlfriend is Victorian jockey Stephanie Thornton, has often shuttled back to Australia, mainly Melbourne and once in Adelaide, to take rides in feature races, courtesy of that asset which makes jockeys like him well sought after: Lightweight.

Though Thompson has yet to make one trip count thus far, he will keep at it regardless, even if nothing is in the pipeline at this juncture.

“It’s been good going back home for a couple of rides once in a while, even if I haven’t won any yet,” said Thompson.

“I’ve got nothing lined up for the Winter Carnival in Brisbane. There was only one lightweight in the Stradbroke and it wasn’t a weight that few riders could take.

“I’d definitely go if the chance came up. I’ve never ridden at Eagle Farm or Doomben but I did ride at the Gold Coast for the Magic Millions meeting.

“It’s more likely I’d be going for the Spring Carnival in Melbourne, though. That’s my home turf and I have a lot more contacts there.”

Singapore Turf Club