By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Jerlyn Seow didn’t get off to the fairytale start she was dreaming of, but her second place at her first career ride on favourite Black Quail on Sunday would still not wipe the smile off the face of the former café worker upon unsaddling.
The half-length second place was a great result not only for the 27-year-old Jurong lady, but also for her trainer Mark Walker, both as the master proud of his protégé and from a pure racing achievement perspective.
Black Quail’s gutsy second after racing handy on the speed throughout in the $30,000 Class 5 race over 1000m was also part of a trifecta for the three-time Singapore champion trainer with stablemate What You Like (Hakim Kamaruddin) getting up along the running rails to gain the upperhand of Black Quail with Walker’s third runner Happy Friday (Benny Woodworth) third, beaten by a similar margin.
The winning time was 59 seconds for the 1000m on the Polytrack.
After a smart getaway from barrier No 4, Black Quail ($13) was given every chance by Seow camped on the outside of My Horse (Wong Chin Chuen) for the best part of the race before she stoked the Coats Choice seven-year-old up for his run at the top of the straight.
For a fleeting moment, the perfect start looked on the cards when Seow hit the front in those familiar colours of the Fairdeal Stable of Dato Terry Lee, but Walker’s other apprentice jockey Hakim had other ideas aboard What You Like ($22) with a more slashing rails-hugging run.
“Coming to the home turn, my horse was slowing down already. When the other horse (What You Like) came up, I gave him another push and he did well to run second,” said Seow, whose new licence began on January 1.
“I’m still very happy with my first ride. I’ll be less nervous for my second ride (Altair) later.”
Just like Walker, who certainly felt more relieved after the race, with his new apprentice jockey taking second place and handing him the tierce as a bonus.
“She did everything right, but the other horse got a dream run on the fence and knocked her off,” said the Kiwi mentor.
“Before the race, I just told her to treat that first race as a trial. I’m very happy with her ride, she will be more confident at the second ride, but it’s also a very tough race.”
Hakim, who finished runner-up to Simon Kok Wei Hoong in the apprentice jockeys premiership last year, said his good barrier (one) was the key to the win.
“The good draw helped my horse,” said the Malaysian rider.
“I saw Jerlyn ahead of me and though she tried hard, my horse was better. She rode a very good race.”
After Alysha Collett returned to Australia when racing was shut down during the Circuit Breaker last year, Seow is currently the only female jockey riding at Kranji, and the first locally-trained rider since Sabrina Kadir, who has long retired and is now married to trainer Daniel Meagher.
On the past COVID-19-plagued season when he surrendered the title to Michael Clements, ironically the name given to the race he just hogged with the first three spots, Walker said the season had not panned out as he expected, and that reclaiming it for a fourth title in 2021 still looks a tall order.
“The last months have been tough. It’s been frustrating with the lack of racing opportunities,” he said.
“We can only hope the horses will get to improve throughout the year, but it won’t be easy with the current situation where you have to make do with the cards you are dealt with at the moment.”
With that second win, What You Like has now taken his record to two wins and six placings from 29 starts for prizemoney in excess of $75,000 for the Remarkable Stable