Dad-to-be Nunes celebrates news of baby with long overdue win

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 February, 2008, 12:00am

Brazilian rider Manoel Nunes has been on the wrong end of suspensions this season, but with the news that he will soon have a baby daughter, he was able to celebrate with an overdue victory to open yesterday's card.

Nunes had been 67 rides without winning since he scored on the Sean Woods-trained Pure Alpha on Boxing Day, but it was Woods who provided his winning return from a four-meeting suspension yesterday.

'I have to thank Sean - he has been a great supporter all the way through, but especially with this horse today,' Nunes said.

'There are probably four or five jockeys here who command the top rides and I'm pretty sure they all rang Sean to ride this one. But he stuck with me and I'm very happy I was able to bring the right result.

'It was been a tough period for me with suspension and it has not been easy sitting at home and watching some of my horses, especially Ultra Fantasy, winning without me, but hopefully we are over that,' he added.

Well Noted has been pulling hard at 1,400 metres lately, but enjoyed the drop back to a fast-run 1,200 metres on the dirt surface. 'It was important that he drew a good barrier today and I didn't have to be too far back, but he still settled well this time,' said Nunes, whose three-months pregnant wife Alessandra found out on Friday that the pair's first child was going to be a girl.

For Woods it was only the first leg of a double, however, as the British horseman also landed Class Five cellar dweller Bauhinia (Way Leung Ming-wai) on the dirt in race four.

Leung is enjoying a resurgent season, his 11 wins now nudging his best-ever season of 13 victories, which he achieved twice as an apprentice in 2001-02 and 2002-03.

In the third all-weather event of the day's mixed programme, dirt specialist Fat Choy Forever (Terry Wong Chi-wai) rewarded his patient followers with a $48 payout for winning the Gay Eighties Handicap (1,650m).

Trainer Dennis Yip Chor-hong had raced Fat Choy Forever on a diet of purely turf racing since June last year, with the result that the seven-year-old's rating had dropped from 87 to 72 in those nine races, but the trainer gets credit for knowing exactly when to move back to the gelding's preferred surface and he was never going to lose this time after taking the early lead.

Yip completed a race to race double having landed Forest Fountain in the fifth.