Munger bows out a winner on Makkem Lad

Outgoing jockey Ryan Munger could not have hoped for a better send-off present after he booted home a last winner at his farewell Kranji meeting on Saturday.

Booked in all 10 races bar one (Race 3), the lightweight South African jockey was staring at the hollow prospect of ending his Singapore adventure on a losing note until his third-last ride Makkem Lad flew to his rescue in the $70,000 Stepitup 2012 Stakes, a Class 3 race over 1200m.

As is his habitual racing pattern, the Kuroshio five-year-old speedster trained by Donna Logan darted straight to the front for Munger. After enjoying soft sectionals as an uncontested leader for most of the way, a fifth win was in his keeping when he spun the bend, so fluid were his strides in the run to the judge.

Still, there was always the possibility he could buckle late, not to mention the backmarkers were not going to let him give the slip so easily.

Lim’s Passion (Krisna Thangamani) led the charge of the light brigade, but Makkem Lad dug his toes in, and from the way he lowered his neck and pinned his ears back, he was never going to get passed.

In the end, Lim’s Passion took the runner-up spot 1 ¼ lengths away with Moongate Star (Hakim Kamaruddin ) third another three parts of a length away.

Neglected in the betting at $109, Makkem Lad completed the 1200m journey on the Short Course in 1min 9.68secs, having now edged his stakes earnings closer to the handy mark of $300,000 for the Eden Park Stud Racing.

“I’m over the moon,” said Munger who flies back to Johannesburg with wife Kelsey on Sunday.

“I’m really stoked I’ve managed to ride a winner at my last meeting here. I’ve ridden my last two winners for Donna (Champagne Finale last Saturday), I’ve put in the hard work for her in the mornings, and she rewarded me with two winning rides.

“Today’s ride was pretty simple. This horse has good speed and from the 400m marker I still had a lot of horse underneath, I was smiling.

“Even if I’ve never ridden him before, I knew he’s always been a good horse. He ran second to Top Knight and dead-heated with Mr Malek.

“He had no-one challenging him today and he took it like a duck to water.”

While Makkem Lad’s four starts post-Circuit Breaker have not been anywhere close to his winning form before – last start before the COVID-19-induced Singapore racing suspension was his dead-heat with Mr Malek in a Class 3 race over 1200m o March 20 – Logan had a hunch the old spark was back after a short let-up since his last start in September when he finished at the rear in a Class 3 race over 1200m on a yielding track.

“He was fresh. He has so much ability but that freshen-up has done him a world of good,” said the New Zealand handler.

“I thought Ryan would suit him as he’s a nice patient rider, and he rode him really well today, he just left him alone in front.

“I think most expected him he would lead and stop, but he just kept going. He hasn’t had much luck at his recent runs, they wouldn’t leave him alone and he had wet tracks.

“I just told Ryan to sit as long as he could today, and I was just praying there would be no rain. He doesn’t really like wet tracks.”

Munger had two more rides after Makkem Lad, but unfortunately could not convert either into one more win to round it up to a perfect 20. He cements his seventh place on the log, although that may change with the two “JP’s,” fellow South African Juan Paul van der Merwe and Australian John Powell on his heels on 18 winners, riding at the last meeting.

One of Munger’s last two bullets was his final chance at a first overseas Group win, the ride on favourite Sincerely in the Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes (1600m), but after he gave the Michael Clements-trained French-bred every chance, he had to settle for third place, beaten by outsider Super Dynasty.

The last Kranji ride Revolution finished out of the placings in the last race, the $50,000 Flying Fulton 2012 Stakes, a Class 4 Division 2 race over 1200m on Polytrack, captured in the last stride by the fast-finishing Headhunter (Marc Lerner, $20).

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