Leading jockey Michael Rodd returned from an enforced holiday a winner aboard a longshot on Sunday.
The Australian rider was outed for two weeks for careless riding aboard Elite Excalibur in the Jumbo Jet Trophy on July 28.
The aptly-named Fireworks (NZ) (Ekraar) two days after National Day, for his main supporter Cliff Brown, was the winning ride in the $20,000 Open Maiden Division 2 race over 1400m.
Rodd said that as much as he enjoyed his break with his family, it was good to get back to work, and even better when a winner is at the receiving end.
“I had a nice break, but it’s good to be back,” he said.
“Cliff (currently on holidays in Australia) called. He doesn’t get too excited about his horses but he was up and about this one.
“He said he should finish in the top three. He goes all right and he had a lovely run.
“He’s honest and he tries hard.”
Even if Rodd missed three meetings, he was still able to comfortably maintain his second place behind current runaway leader Vlad Duric at a healthy gap of nine winners – 55 wins versus 46 wins.
Brown’s stable supervisor Tony Lane said that Fireworks ($101), who was shedding his maiden status at his seventh start, had been a work in progress, but there have been some telltale signs of improvement of late.
“It wasn’t really a surprise. He got a great ride and he ran a great race,” said Lane.
“His trackwork has been better and he’s eating well. He’s also a bit dry coated, and he’s started to sweat which is a big thing in Singapore.
“It’s good for his owners (Buffalo Stable). He’s a nice horse going forward and we’ll see how he goes from now on.”
Fireworks, who had never really shown early gate speed before, was the best away on Sunday. Once Rodd was able to slot him onto the fence in fourth spot, he enjoyed an economical run throughout.
Into the straight, short-priced favourite Kuda Bagus attacked the line on the outside while Fireworks picked his way between Lord Justice and race-leader Glamorous at the 150m.
The two horses finished locked together on the line, but the photo finish gave the verdict to Fireworks by a nose. Lord Justice hung on for third place another 1 ¼ lengths away.
The winning time was 1min 23.68secs for the 1400m on the Short Course. - STC