By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Mark Ewe was a man with mixed emotions after he booted Nineteen Gale home in the$30,000 Class 5 Division 1 race over 1700m on Sunday.
The Penang-born and Perth-trained jockey was among three locals not renewed for 2021, the other two being veteran Malaysian Azhar Ismail and Chin Chee Seng.
The former three-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey was clearly delighted he had ended his current licence on a winning note, especially for one of his staunchest supporters in trainer David Kok, but it was cold comfort to the 37-year-old’s overall disappointment of sitting on the outer from next year.
Mark Ewe steers Nineteen Gale to a resounding win on Sunday.
“I’m happy I won on my last ride, but at the same time, I’m sad I won’t ride in races next year,” said Ewe who with that last win, winds up his tally on three winners for 2020.
“Of course, I’m disappointed my licence was not renewed, but I respect the decision. It’s true I haven’t had many opportunities, but I always try my best with the few rides I get, as you could see just now.”
Ewe revealed he was actually optimistic about a fairytale ending on Nineteen Gale, even if he had only one win to show for in 11 previous starts.
After settling the $34 shot at the back ahead of only two runners throughout, Ewe began to get busy from the 600m where the Helmet four-year-old could be seen improving through the field.
Held up for his run a couple of times, Nineteen Gale exploded away once he found a gap between the weakening The Wild Prince (Koh Teck Huat) and Sun Conqueror (Vlad Duric) to beat Where She’s Happy (Marc Lerner) by one length with Sun Conqueror third another 2 ¾ lengths away.
The winning time was 1min 45.56secs for the 1700m on the Polytrack.
“I was very confident about this horse. I was supposed to ride him when he won but he had 51.5kgs which I cannot make and Benny Woodworth won on him,” said Ewe, whose other Sunday booking Forever Good was the second of his three 2020 winners, but ran unplaced this time around.
“The last two times I rode him, the distances (1100m and 1200m) were too short. Today he was on his right trip and he finished very strongly as I expected.
“Thank you to David, who has always supported me, and thank you to all the trainers and owners who have supported me all these years.
“I will keep working hard and hope I can get my licence again one day.”
Ewe will in the meantime stay in the racing industry as a senior track rider.
Kok is certainly one of the trainers who will give him a few horses to ride out to keep him on the payroll – and in shape.
“Mark was very confident about Nineteen Gale. He gave him a very patient ride,” said Kok who also races Nineteen Gale in his colours.
“He knows the horse well. I’m happy he won at his last ride.”
Nineteen Gale has now taken his record to two wins and one second from 12 starts for stakes money that has doubled to around the $35,000 mark