Two young promising lightweight jockeys will join the Kranji riding ranks in the 2019 Singapore racing season, with the first race meeting kicking off on Tuesday.
They are 21-year-old Australian Ben Thompson, who won the $500,000 Group 2 EW Barker Trophy aboard Mister Yeoh on Nov 9, and a new face, 27-year-old South African Juan Paul van der Merwe.
The duo are among 10 expatriate jockeys granted licences by the Singapore Turf Club (STC) for the new season. Both secured full-year licences, pending approval of their employment passes to ride in Singapore.
Also licensed from Jan 1 to Dec 31 are South African Barend Vorster, the 2004 Singapore champion jockey, and Australians John Powell, Michael Rodd and Daniel Moor. Powell is now serving a two-month suspension, until Jan 20, over his handling of Paparazzi on Nov 18. He had failed to ride his horse to the satisfaction of the stewards.
The other four expatriate jockeys were granted six-month licences (Jan 1 to June 30) by the STC, namely Australian and back-to-back Singapore champion Vlad Duric, his compatriot Glen Boss, Mauritian Nooresh Juglall and Frenchman Marc Lerner.
Currently licensed by Racing Victoria, Thompson began his riding career in May 2014. He was first indentured to former Kranji-based trainer Mick Kent before moving to Cranbourne trainer Allan Williams a year later.
In the space of four years, the son of greyhound trainer Jason Thompson earned his stripes among the top echelon of apprentice jockeys in Victoria. He claimed the 2016/17 Victorian Apprentice Rising Stars Series and has ridden about 300 winners, outriding his metropolitan claim in February this year.
The Cliff Brown-trained Mister Yeoh was his first Group success at his two-day visit at Kranji during the Dester Singapore Gold Cup weekend last month.
Thompson may not have yet won a feature race back home, but, interestingly, has already ridden in two of its biggest races, the Melbourne Cup (Rose Of Virginia) and Caulfield Cup (De Little Engine), both in 2016.
A lightweight, he goes to scale at 49kg and should be in demand. Likewise, van der Merwe, who can ride at 50kg.
After joining the South African Jockey's Academy in Durban in 2007, followed by Cape Town, van der Merwe quickly shot to the top of his class when he started out. He claimed the champion apprentice jockey title for South Africa, Zimbabwe and Highveld in the 2010/11 season.
Riding for top trainers, among them Glen Kotzen, Michael Azzie, Mike de Kock, Alec Laird and Sean Tarry, during his career, van der Merwe has piloted about 700 winners, including 11 at Group level.
His career highlight is no doubt winning the Group 1 J&B Met on a pick-up ride, replacing Weichong Marwing, on Smart Call in 2016. His other notable wins came in the Supreme Cup, Debutante and Gold Bowl, all Group 2 events.
Apart from South Africa, van Der Merwe has ridden in Dubai and Mauritius. He just returned to South Africa after spending about seven months in Mauritius, where he had 18 winners from 117 rides.
Kranji will also get a new trainer in the new season, Jerome Tan, who has been allocated stables by the STC.
The former Penang-based Singaporean, 51, made his first steps in racing as a syce with Penang trainer Cecil Robert in 1998. He slowly worked his way up to reach the position of stable supervisor.
After obtaining his assistant-trainer's licence in 2005, he joined ex-Kranji trainer Tan Hor Khoon in that capacity before transferring to another former Kranji trainer, Lionel Lee. Tan then switched to Malaysian-based trainer Roslan Pawanteh for a few months before he was granted a trainer's licence in June 2009.
Based in Penang, Tan notched 190 winners from 2,724 starters in the last 10 years across the Causeway. His biggest victory was in the Perak Derby with Mr Ambassador in 2012.
Friday’s South Africa results
1st 5 The Greek Soldier ($100-$16)
2nd 1 Coal ($6)
3rd 4 King Winter ($50)
4th 6 King Of Promise
Place Forecast (1-5) $10, (4-5) $58, (1-4) $29
Quartet No winner ($264 carried forward)
Scratchings: 9 King Winter, 12 The Landlord
1st 3 Kiss Me Twice ($36-$14)
2nd 2 Mindmymooood ($5.10)
3rd 5 Master Newton (No 3rd dividend)
4th 6 Prince In Action
Place Forecast (Refund)
Scratching: 7 Seville
1st 5 Shepherd’s Sky ($10-$7)
2nd 1 Harington Port ($6)
3rd 8 Hither Green ($7)
4th 7 Fine Lady
Place Forecast (1-5) $4, (5-8) $4, (1-8) $5
Tierce $23 Trio $7 Quartet $77
1st 7 Titus ($106-$20)
2nd 3 Evolver ($13)
3rd 5 Data Link ($6)
4th 4 Golden Shamrock
Place Forecast (3-7) $57, (5-7) $17, (3-5) $17
Tierce $4,171 Trio $631
Quartet No winner ($386 carried forward)
1st 2 Tubular Bell ($20-$8)
2nd 6 Whiteleaf Hills ($18)
3rd 8 Shallcross ($13)
4th 12 King Javeline
Place Forecast (2-6) $22, (2-8) $15, (6-8) $56
Tierce $520 Trio $298
Quartet No winner ($612 carried forward)
1st 3 The Highway Man ($37-$9)
2nd 5 March Music ($7)
3rd 1 Jika ($5.10)
4th 7 Maple Syrup
Place Forecast (3-5) $4, (1-3) $6, (1-5) $3
Tierce $113 Trio $8 Quartet $671
1st 3 High Definition ($14-$7)
2nd 4 Scribo ($9)
3rd 10 The Carpenter ($16)
4th 9 Royal Applause
Place Forecast (3-4) $7, (3-10) $17, (4-10) $24
Tierce $176 Trio $62
Quartet No winner ($354 carried forward)
Scratching: 1 For Luck Sake
Results of Races 8 and 9 were not available at press time. Log on to www.turfclub.com.sg for the results.
Yesterday’s Kranji trackwork
GALLOPS BY HORSES ENGAGED ON TUESDAY
Dontlookdownonme (M Ewe) 42.4. Dragonite (N Zyrul) 39.2. Fighting Warrior 44.8. My Win 35.7.
Sothistheone 46.5. Legendary Era 35.7.
Dreamweaver 42.2. Eastiger 40.2 H. Khudawand 43/45. Silent Arrow (B Woodworth) 42.4.
Qingdao 38.2. Gingerman 37.8.
Solitaire (Y Salim) 41.7. Ultimate Killer 37.7.
Tun O’Reilly 37.1. Evil Speedo (Woodworth) 42.8.
Eragon gallop. Captain Jamie (V Duric) 36.1 H. Mighty Emperor (N Juglall) 36.8. Zac Ace 37.3. Black Jade canter/40.1. Yulong Sheng Long 39.6.
Nova Vocal pace work. First Choice (D Moor) 40.4.
Rafaello (Juglall) 36.8 H. Nova Strike 39.6. Skywalk pace work H. Nowyousee 40.9. Saraab 43/43.
Absolvido 38.3 H. Copacabana (M Rodd) 39.9 H. Yulong Fire (Woodworth) 40.9. El Chapo 43.5. Dynamic General (MM Firdaus) 37.1. Evil Wesley 41.1. Spur Me On 45.1.