Nine rides to launch exchange programme apprentice jockey

Photo: (Brendan McCarthy/Racing Photos)
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Via Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club

Jessica Eaton was pleasantly surprised with her book of rides at her first week of riding in Singapore.

While the 26-year-old apprentice jockey from Gisborne, North Melbourne, is not yet aware of the names that will convey her around her first spins at Kranji, seeing nine rides to her name does spur her on.

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Granted, it’s her master for three weeks (28 October to 17 November) Daniel Meagher who helped muster the mounts, but it still remains a nice kickalong which can certainly help her realise her goal to ride at least one winner.

Trainer Daniel Meagher and visiting apprentice jockey Jessica Eaton will be working closely together during her three-week stint in Singapore.

“I’m really excited to be here. I’ve never ridden here, let alone visited the country – I’ve only travelled to Bali before,” said Eaton who made her first steps in eventing before switching to horse racing in 2014 when indentured to Caulfield trainer Mick Price.

“I thought it’d be hard to get rides, but I’ve got three for Friday and six for Sunday, which is more than I expected. I have to thank Dan who is the one who has teed me up with those rides.”

Eaton is the first beneficiary of a new exchange deal inked between the Singapore Turf Club and Racing Victoria.

As the 110-odd race winner gets a chance to broaden her horizon with all aspects of racing and riding in Singapore, leading Kranji apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong will reciprocate the arrangement by transferring his indentures from Steven Burridge to Melbourne trainers David Hayes & Tom Dabernig during the racing break in December.

Eaton, who has never ridden overseas, but did ride interstate in South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia, might not know a great deal about her new hunting ground, but her close links with the Meaghers have eased her into the alien territory.

With her master in Australia being Daniel’s elder brother, Mornington trainer Chris Meagher, the choice of another Meagher as her mentor in Singapore was a no-brainer.

“It was like a natural progression to move from Chris to Dan, it certainly makes settling in a lot easier,” said Eaton who had her last rides at the country track of St Arnaud on Saturday with a second as his best result.

“I’ve had a few conversations with John (father of Daniel and Chris, former Kranji trainer and recent Australian Hall of Fame inductee) about the place. He was more into the history, which was also interesting.

“Chris of course spoke to me about the racing side, and Dan has also been fantastic since I arrived in Singapore yesterday afternoon, he’s really taken me under his wings.

“This morning, Dan took me on his buggy around the track, ‘terrorising’ people along the way! He’s introduced me to a lot of trainers, and I think I’ll be riding for Mark Walker, Cliff Brown and James Peters this week.

“Dan’s also shown me his horses and they look in great shape. My permit is ready, and I could have started trackwork today, but I’ll start tomorrow instead.

“Matty Pumpa was also my coach at Racing Victoria (through the Apprentice Jockeys Training Program) for 3 ½ years before he came up here. So that’s also a big help.

“I also know some of the jockeys here like Daniel Moor, and obviously, I spoke with Patrick Moloney who spent a few weeks here recently. He filled me in a fair bit on what to expect and Raquel Clark also messaged me.

“I didn’t really follow Singapore racing before, but since I was told I was coming over, I’ve been watching a lot of replays.”

Obviously, still a little disoriented by the new surroundings, Eaton is keen to find her bearings as quickly as possible, not to mention her way to the winning post as well.

“I came here hoping to ride at least one winner, but like I said, getting such a big book of rides at my first week is very encouraging,” she said.

“More importantly, I hope the experience here will be invaluable and will help improve my riding.”

Eaton, who goes to scale at 51kgs, finished in sixth position on 40 wins in the Victorian Metropolitan Apprentice Jockeys’ Premiership of the recently completed 2018/2019 Victorian racing season, eight of those at metropolitan level.

As she claims three kilos at metropolitan meetings in Australia, she will be entitled to the same allowance under the Malayan Racing Association Rules of Racing.