Test pilot Duric Sure Will Do in trials

Vlad Duric will always try and avail himself whenever good mate Stephen Gray needs him for a barrier trial ride, even if it won’t lead to a race-ride upgrade next.

Stephen Gray gives Vlad Duric a leg-up on Sure Will Do at the Kranji barrier trials.
Stephen Gray gives Vlad Duric a leg-up on Sure Will Do at the Kranji barrier trials. Picture: Singapore Turf Club

That was again the case on Thursday morning when the four-time Singapore champion jockey was seen astride exciting prospect Sure Will Do in heat No 3 at Kranji.

Gray's Per Incanto four-year-old was hard held behind the speed throughout the spin, finishing fourth to Tiger Roar (Shafrizal Saleh) about 2 ½ lengths astern, barely tested at any stage.

The Kiwi couldn't have hoped for a better run to top Sure Will Do  off ahead of his next start in the Class 4 race over 1100m next Saturday.

Two-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong has partnered the Chens' up-and-coming galloper at all his four starts for a smart record of three wins.

It's not surprising Kok is staying on at that bid for a fourth success, but there are two good reasons why it was Duric and not Kok who rode Sure Will Do in Thursday's trial.

As per Malayan Racing Association (MRA) rules, Kok can only take rides from his master Steven Burridge in such hit-outs, and Gray values Duric's horsemanship and feedback for such raw diamonds with still plenty of scope – he actually gallops him, too.

"I wanted him to relax and I really appreciate Vlad coming to ride him," said Gray.

"Vlad is a heavyweight jockey and strong. He can get him to settle, but he's no fool, he also knows he may get on if the horse gets into better class one day.

"Simon has done nothing wrong with this horse and it was always him who would ride him in that Class 4 race next week, but rules are rules, he can't ride for trainers other than his master in barrier trials.

"Vlad is a good guy, and I also appreciate his feedback. Noh (Senari) did the same thing at his (Sure Will Do's) last trial but he couldn't today as he had another ride (Pindus).

"Today, the horse trialled very good. A bit of pressure came on, but he settled well, he has come on since his last race."

Sure Will Do contested a speed scamper over 1000m for Class 4 gallopers on February 27, first-up from a short layoff since his only defeat at the hands of Champagne Finale back in December. Sitting off a beautiful trail, he bounced back to his best once he was presented for his run to the line.

Duric jumped off saying Sure Will Do would be hard to beat at his next outing.

"He trialled well. He's probably a bit better than Class 4," said the Australian jockey.

"I ride him at most of his gallops as he's quite strong, and I gel well with him. He's getting better and better with each gallop, he's very progressive.

"This morning, I just hung on to him. We sat back off a few horses, he was quite relaxed and the other horses gave us a nice tow to the post.

"He was full of energy. He'll be hard to beat in that Class 4 race next week."


Singapore Turf Club