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General Commands again back on Polytrack

August 15, 2023 at 5:12:14 AM

While he was no slouch on the turf, General Command showed why he is one of Singapore’s best sprinters on the Polytrack after he took out the $85,000 Class 2 race over 1100m on Sunday.

The fifth victory by the five-year-old son of Shalaa was also his first win at his first start for new trainer Richard Lim.

Sent out as the prohibitive $6 favourite, jockey Manoel Nunes took no chances after jumping well from barrier four by sending General Command straight to the front and dictating terms early.

The move – a simple one on paper but tricky in the heat of battle – paid immediate dividends with Sacred Gift (Iskandar Rosman) settling on his flank, pushing Polytrack specialist Illustrious (Bruno Queiroz) into a three-wide with no cover position into the first bend.

Meanwhile, jockey Shafrizal Saleh had $34 second-favourite Silent Is Gold in the perfect position one-back with cover and most others in the small field of seven were relatively close too.

Though General Command went at a solid clip upfront, Nunes had plenty left in the tank. At the 400m, Nunes kicked for home with some confidence on a horse that had only tasted defeat once in his five previous starts on the all-weather surface.

A one-and-half length advantage at the 300m was enough for General Command to see off the challengers with relative ease in the straight, although Sacred Gift kept him honest with his best work in the last 100m, eventually settling for second half-a-length away.

llustrious finished another length away in third after his tough run while in-form stayer So Hi Class (Koh Teck Huat) made ground late to fill the quartet.

The winning time was 1 min 4.57secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack and General Command's fifth win from eight starts in Singapore took his earnings to over $222,000 for the Lordship Stable.

Lim was relieved as he had only a few weeks to prepare some highly-rated horses for big assignments for their owners after he took over 32 horses from ex-Kranji trainer Jason Lim.

"Yes, I had been stressed up for the past few weeks," said the former Malaysia champion jockey.

"I've never won a Class 2 race before but thanks to Nunes, he helped me a lot with the horses that were transferred.

"And thanks to my team back at the stables - especially my assistant trainer, Joe (Zulkifliy) and my stable supervisor, Kala (Kalamani A/L Dewadasan).

"We had a big change with the new horses and everyone did their part."

Of the race, Lim was nervous watching on but confident of a result once General Command found the lead so easily.

"We didn't know what Illustrious would do early, so when we got a soft lead yet he (Illustrious) took the sit and was caught wide, I thought we would be hard to beat," he explained.

"But my heart was still racing in the last 100m. I knew he (General Command) was fit enough but it was still nice to get the result. It was a great ride by Nunes, but you would expect that.

"We really needed to win early with one of the good (and transferred) horses so we know we are on the right track.

"Now, I'll see how he (General Command) pulls up before looking at his next race. But with his high rating, options are limited.

"Thanks to the Lordship Stable for trusting me with their good horse too. Nice to have good new owners in the stable."

While Lim had only weeks to get to know General Command, Nunes had been the only jockey to ride him in both races and barrier trials in Singapore, which gave the four-time champion jockey the confidence that they were on the right track to win.

"Richard had him in winning condition," said Nunes, who picked up a treble after he won on Fighting Hero ($22) in the $30,000 Class 5 Division 1 race over 1000m and Ghalib ($27) on debut in the $50,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over 1200m earlier.

"We also picked this race out for him (General Command) after his last run after he ran third on the turf (in a Class 1 race on July 8) as this (1100m) was his best trip.

"I knew he would run well but my only concern was the small field – they can be tricky, but he broke well and finding the rail was important as he can lay in badly.

"He's a lovely horse – very honest. The win was good for Richard and the owners."

With his treble, Nunes now sits on 64 wins for the season, 32 wins clear of his nearest rival and jockey Wong Chin Chuen, who was indisposed on Sunday.

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