Seow has both quantity and quality this week, but just happy to keep learning

Jerlyn Seow

By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club

Jerlyn Seow Poh Hui garnered her biggest book of rides in her fledgling career at Kranji this Saturday – 10, and most are not your usual second-rate fodder for apprentice jockeys.

But the four-kilo claimer, who only began riding in races on January 3 and on average takes two to three rides, mostly for her master Mark Walker, is not the least bit fazed by how many she is legged up on or whether it’s Frankel or Lai Mak Mak.

Regardless of the quality versus quantity conundrum, to the 27-year-old eager beaver, each ride is a new chapter to Jockey 101 – and boy, or should we say, girl (she is currently the only female rider at Kranji) does she know there are a few volumes to complete before she can look back and say she is the finished article.

Jerlyn Seow Poh Hui punches home her first winner Axel on April 24.

Still, Seow is gratified by the support. At the end of the day, racing is still a dog-eat-dog world where KPIs are measured by winners.

The four-kilo claimer was able to convert two of her 89 rides into wins, the first coming at her 71st attempt on April 24 with Walker’s Axel, and the second with Savvy Command (also Walker’s) two weeks ago.

While winners invariably beget more support, Saturday’s sudden windfall also stems from the unusually high number of jockeys on enforced holiday. As many as nine riders will sit out Saturday’s meeting through suspension for various indiscretions, mainly careless riding.

Their loss, Seow’s gain, even if the avid learner, in her refreshing candidness, saw the ‘pick-up’ rides more as extra lessons – a means to an end, that of becoming a master of her craft.

“I’m very happy and excited I got so many rides, but to me, it’s more about getting confidence to sit on horses and getting them to finish across the line,” she said.

“I was told I got a good book of rides this week, but to be honest, my boss has all along given me good rides. I would say 90% of them have a great chance in my mind, and I only go out there and try my best.

“I try not to think so and so is favourite. If they win, it’s a bonus – and yes, I’m also very happy I’ve won two races already!”

If one starts to see Seow as an ingenue with few clues about the cattle she throws her legs over every week, think again.

“I do my homework of all my rides. Obviously, I know the ones I ride in work better,” she said.

“Of my 10 rides this Saturday, I would say Street Cry Success, Sacred Gift – on which I nearly won – Maximilian stand good chances.

“I never rode Mystery Power before but the boss got me to gallop him this week and I was very happy with his work. He gave me a good feeling.

“Free Fallin’ is from another stable (Shane Baertschiger, who would normally book Matthew Kellady, but he is rubbed out), but I watched his last races, including his win with Matty. The field is not strong, and I think he’s got a good chance.”

Sweet Tapit (Walker), Siam Royal Orchid and Miej (Michael Clements), Sun Rectitude (Desmond Koh) and Perfect (Daniel Meagher) are Seow’s remaining five rides to a super busy day that will require a bit more oxygen to burn than the norm, but the natural lightweight (all 49kgs of her) hopes the Duracell bunny in her will see her through.

“I should be okay. I used to go to the gym to work on my fitness, but now that they’re closed, I do other alternative exercises like run up the stairs, do some body weights at home, etc,” said Seow.

“Anyway, riding trackwork every morning has kept me fit. I used to ride the mechanical horse a few times a week, but I ride so much trackwork now that I don’t have much time left for that, but I still go for practice once every two weeks.

“I also feel I have improved a lot as a rider after five months. (Former eight-time Singapore champion jockey and now Walker’s senior track rider) Saimee Jumaat, Danny Beasley and many other jockeys give me a lot of advice.

“(Chief starter) Damien Kinninmont also goes through my rides to point out what I did right or wrong. I was told he used to conduct weekly classes with the apprentices but that has stopped now because of COVID-19.

“It would be good if it started again, but for now, I’ll just learn as much as I can from my race rides, like this week.

“I just want them to finish the race. It would be nice if at least one of them wins!”

Author: iRace