'Discouraged' Nunes joins exodus of lightweights

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 March, 2008, 12:00am

Manoel Nunes has added to the riding roster woes by returning home to his native Brazil with his pregnant wife Alessandra.

Nunes, 32, confirmed yesterday he had resigned his position as a club jockey, and his departure date would only depend on when he can get two seats on a flight to his homeland, with all outward flights heavily booked.

Nunes is the third top-level jockey to resign in the past month, following Shane Dye and Anthony Delpech.

The impact is even greater on the club than it may appear at face value because each of these riders is a natural lightweight, who could ride at the 113 pound minimum.

'To be successful in anything, you need to be happy and I haven't been happy here for a while,' Nunes said. 'I have not been getting very many good rides, and after a while you get sick of pushing around one donkey after another. It's very discouraging. I have tried hard, and stuck it out as long as I could, but even with Dye and Delpech having gone, my situation hasn't really changed.

'We will go home now, I can have a good mental break, and many of the big races in Brazil are run in May at San Paulo, so the timing there may work out for me. And for Alessandra, it will be good for her to be back among family.'

Nunes has been away from Brazil for six years and won two Macau premierships before opening the Hong Kong chapter of his career. In his first season (2006-07), Nunes won 37 races but this year his support base dried up and he's landed just eight.

The Jockey Club yesterday announced the signing of Mark du Plessis, the successful New Zealand-based lightweight who won the Singapore premiership in 2006.

Du Plessis, 32, was born in Zimbabwe, where he was champion apprentice in 1994-95 and champion senior rider in 1997-98. He emigrated to New Zealand 10 years ago and has been in the top echelon of riders there. During his stints in Singapore he landed 253 winners, including two Singapore Gold Cups on Zirna and Raul. He has a career total of more than 800 winners.

Stanley Chin Kin-ming has been licensed as a visiting jockey for the Derby meeting on Sunday, with Tony Cruz handing him the ride on Danesis in the classic.

Another one bites dust

Manoel Nunes is the latest jockey who can ride at this amount of minimum pounds to leave Hong Kong: 113