By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Malaysian apprentice jockey Hakim Kamaruddin might only be at his second season in Singapore, but the young talented rider has already bettered his career-best haul with a four-timer on Sunday.
Last year, Mark Walker’s promising apprentice scored a hat-trick of wins aboard Broadway Success, Sacred Rebel (both for Walker) and Thomas De Lago for trainer Desmond Koh on August 8.
The 22-year-old from Malaysia’s horse country state of Kelantan could have hogged the Kranji winner’s circle even more had his objection on Speedy Missile against the winner Pattaya in the last race been upheld, or Who Loves Bae and Mustengo had not found one better in their respective contests.
The soft-spoken Hakim, who is also known as Aiman, would rather lap up his achievement rather than wonder what could have been. By expecting three winners, the three-kilo claimer had underpromised and yet overdelivered with Federation, Latent Power, Clarton Supreme and by coincidence, Sacred Rebel, yes, the same horse who was part of that first treble milestone last year.
Only the Tan Kah Soon-trained Clarton Supreme didn’t come for his boss, who it would seem, has found back his groove in this early part of the season, bouncing back from his laboured ending to last year’s campaign when the three-time Singapore champion trainer lost the title to Michael Clements.
“I knew I had good rides this week. I thought I could ride three winners like last year, but I got four, which is even better,” said a beaming Hakim upon dismounting from Sacred Rebel ($29) in the $85,000 Class 2 race over 1100m on Polytrack.
“I was just lucky. I just followed the trainer’s instructions and I tried my best on all four winners.
“On Sacred Rebel, boss told me to sit midfield as we knew they would go fast early. He was travelling very well, the fast pace suited him.
“The two horses to beat (Super Invincible and My Dreamliner) were in front, but my horse finished better than them.
“Last time, this horse had no luck because he was caught wide (fast-finishing third to Surpass Natural, less than one length away), but today, he had the strength to finish off. He’s also very good on Polytrack.”
To Walker, Hakim has always shown outstanding potential, and will go far if he keeps his head screwed down the right way.
“He’s riding very well. If he keeps riding the way he is, he will be hard to catch,” said the Kiwi mentor.
“He’s got the right attitude and he listens, may he continue riding in the same form.”
Two-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong made his riding comeback on Sunday after missing the whole month of January while attending to his sick grandfather, and eventually his funeral in Ipoh, but returned empty-handed. Claiming only one kilo, Kok may well have his job cut out to reel in his fellow Malaysian this time round in his bid for a third title.
Hakim now sits on his lonesome on top of the pile on nine winners, five clear of Iskandar Rosman, who also fired blanks on Sunday.
Lee Freedman’s apprentice jockey could certainly not be faulted for his handling of favourite Super Invincible in Sacred Rebel’s race, after giving the I Am Invincible four-year-old every chance while stalking up race-leader Excelling (Jerlyn Seow Poh Hui) from the start.
Super Invincible was victory-bound when he took over from the fast-weakening Excelling upon cornering, but maybe the wide barrier combined with the rise in class told in the end.
He shortened up as My Dreamliner (Benny Woodworth) swept past, but both couldn’t come up with a riposte to Sacred Rebel’s superior turn of foot inside the last 300m.
The Sepoy six-year-old gunned them down in one fell swoop to go and post a two-length win from My Dreamliner with Super Invincible third another half-length away. The winning time was 1min 4.16secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack.
Sacred Rebel, whose prizemoney has now reached just a tick under the $300,000 mark for the Remarkable Stable, was recording his sixth career win, with all having occurred on the all-weather.
“It’s just a shame there are not enough races on Polytrack for him. That’s the problem with him,” said Walker.
“I may have to go back to turf for him next. He’s won on turf in Australia but not here.”