Nor Azman impresses Ritchie

Zy Nor Azman returning to scale on Aaja Nachle at Avondale last Saturday. (Photo: Kenton Wright).

Zy Nor Azman returning to scale on Aaja Nachle at Avondale last Saturday. (Photo: Kenton Wright).

Frank Ritchie engaged local apprentice Zy Nor Azman for the first time at Avondale last Saturday and he sung his praises after his winning ride on Aaja Nachle.

Nor Azman, who is indentured to Ralph Manning, picked up his first win aboard the Ben Foote-trained Illuminati at Ellerslie earlier this month and made it two wins from 12 rides when guiding Aaja Nachle to victory in the Collett Racing Stables 1200.

“The kid rode her perfectly,” said Ritchie. “If I had sat behind him in the saddle he couldn’t have done it better.

“She usually jumps and runs but I told him not to panic if she doesn’t lead. I just said to sit and do not go until you have to and you’ll work it out when that is.

“She jumped and led and he had her on a nice soft rein. He hugged the rail and even let a few go around him and didn’t panic. He waited and that’s what won her the race. I was impressed with him and I‘ll put him on again.”

At 27, Nor Azman had maturity on his side and it was his 4kg claim which landed him the ride on Aaja Nachle, who took her record to five wins and eight placings from 22 starts.

However, Nor Azman won’t be on Aaja Nachle next start as Ritchie will be looking for a senior rider when he runs her in the Gr. 3 $80,000 Rich Hill Stud Taranaki Breeders Stakes at Hawera on Oct 10.

“I’m trying to get black-type with her,” said Ritchie. “She ran in the Foxbridge Plate and wasn’t up to that class, but she did run second in the (Listed) Castletown Stakes as a two-year-old. The Hawera race is 1400 metres and though she’s best at 1200 she did win over 1400 at Te Rapa (in July last year) when beating Freedom and Illuminati.

“The plan is to run her at Hawera then put her out for a couple of weeks and freshen-up her up for the (Listed) Counties Bowl in late November. It’s over 1100 metres so should suit her.”

Aaja Nachle is raced by the Family Trust of retired Auckland pharmacist Nirandra Balia, who bred her from his good sprinter Madhuri Dixit, whose six wins included the Listed Newmarket Handicap at Ellerslie.

“Nigel Tiley trained Madhuri Dixit for her first win as a two-year-old then he gave up training and I ended up with her,” said Ritchie. “Nirandra has been a good client of mine since then.”

Ritchie’s attention this week will focus on the stayer Bachelor Zeel, who will resume in the Gartshore Construction 1600 at Tauranga tomorrow in the hands of Sam Collett.

“He’s got to run to get ready for some of the staying races before the tracks become too firm,” said Ritchie. “He’s a heavy horse who has had a few issues.”

Bachelor Zeel was taken to Queensland last winter as a two-race winner and his best performance in four Australian starts was a fifth in the Listed Ipswich Cup.