Nunes aims to give his best shot in HK

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 September, 2006, 12:00am

'I'm doing plenty of work in the mornings... I love the hard work'

Punters looking for a reason to back the new Brazilian rider, Manoel Nunes da Silva, on Sunday need look no further than the basics - unlike some rivals, who have been known to put on a pound or two during the summer, Nunes' fitness won't be an issue.

Holding a huge lead in the Macau jockeys' championship nearing the end of the season, Nunes had no qualms about leaving his second successive title win there to luck so he could begin his Hong Kong contract in mid-August.

'I think I was about 26 wins in front of Eric Legrix, I left Macau with four meetings to go and won by 20 in the end,' he said.

'But one thing that was difficult coming here straight from Macau is that I haven't had any break for a while to see my family. My father passed away in Brazil in June and my mother was on the phone crying a lot and it has not been easy.'

While the jockey doesn't want to make comparisons with Macau, there was one aspect with which any new rider in Hong Kong sympathises and probably most would use as both an illustration and inspiration.

'I didn't go there expecting to do well, I didn't know. I thought I would just take my chances, but the first two months were very hard,' Nunes recalls. 'When I got there, I was riding the worst horses all the time. I was losing confidence in my own abilities and was ready to go back to Brazil.'

But trainer, Alan Ngai had noticed that the first jockey at trackwork every day was Nunes and figured he deserved a chance on that basis alone.

'He had 55 to 60 horses and no regular rider. I was happy to do the work in the mornings and when I started to ride a few winners for Alan, other trainers began to give me a chance, too,' Nunes said and it's a role he may, like others, have to endure again at Sha Tin if he is to make a success of things here.

Nunes, 30, was a late call-up to the jockey's roster, named after the original licences were handed out in order to replace injured-Shane Dye.

With Michael Cahill having withdrawn from this season and Dye looking on target for any early resumption, Nunes finds himself with another lottery ticket in Asian racing after making the very best of his first season in Macau.

'I'm doing plenty of work in the mornings for different yards - John Moore, David Ferraris, Derek Cruz, also Ricky Yiu,' he says. 'And the trial winner I rode on Saturday night [Treasure Planet] was for Me Tsui, so I'm working for a few different people and I love the hard work on the track because it keeps me fit.'