Munce gets the monkey off his back with winning double

COMEBACK jockey Chris Munce has returned to the winner’s circle just days after resuming his racing career following 20 months in prison.

The Melbourne Cup-, Golden Slipper- and Cox Plate-winning jockey scored a winning double at yesterday’s Hawkesbury meeting.

Munce fronted at Hawkesbury for four rides, and after finishing second on Shrewd Princess in the opening event, steered the Mitchell Hudson-trained Swiftus home to a comfortable victory in the second. Munce later scored on trainer Steve Englebrecht’s galloper War Council.

"It was terrific," Munce said, revealing wife Cathy and their three children were at the track. "The crowd was fantastic when I came back in. They cheered, clapped, carried on."

Munce, who has picked up the ride on form galloper Something Anything in Saturday’s Villiers Stakes at Randwick, is more than happy with his return, which started at Randwick last Friday with three rides.

At Rosehill on Saturday, he had five rides, finishing third on Lioncub and second on Talaana, prompting the jockey to lodge a protest against the winner Jimmy Fortunes, which stewards dismissed quickly.

"I’m giving my horses every chance, and the more I ride, the better I’ll be. It’ll come with time," Munce said. "I’ve ridden for three days in a row. I’ve pulled up great each time, and each ride I’m getting better. It is just finetuning; you’ve always got to finetune your performance.

"If I was coming back from injury, wasting hard, holding back, it would take longer but because I’m fit and well it’ll come quicker."

Munce has a busy schedule this week with trials at Hawkesbury this morning, Randwick tomorrow, Wyong races on Wednesday, Canterbury on Thursday night, trials again at Randwick on Friday before fronting up for the Villiers meeting on Saturday. "Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’ve just got to keep my performance up to scratch," Munce said.

Last year, he was sentenced to 30 months in jail for his part in Hong Kong’s "tips for bets" bribery scandal. The term was reduced to 20 months due to good behaviour with Munce serving the first seven months in a Hong Kong prison and the remainder at Sydney’s Silverwater jail.

Munce’s return to the saddle continues to be surrounded by controversy due to the Hong Kong Jockey Club stewards charging him with 36 breaches of the rules a fortnight ago. He pleaded guilty and did not appeal, with HKJC stewards disqualifying him until September next year.

Two days after the HKJC decision, Munce fronted a show cause hearing at the offices of Racing NSW and was granted a licence to ride in this state. The decision enraged the HKJC, which continues to rant and rave about Racing NSW ostracising itself due to failing to uphold reciprocal agreements on penalties.

Takeover Target’s stay in Perth is over, with trainer Joe Janiak ordering a spell for the remarkable sprinter. The veteran galloper toyed with rivals to win the Scahill Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, a fortnight after defeating Apache Cat in the Winterbottom Stakes.

Perth stewards reported afterwards that Takeover Target had pulled up slightly lame in the near foreleg.