Singapore apprentice feeling right at home
SINGAPORE apprentice Simon Kok broke through for his first win in Tasmania when he guided the Team Wellstrained Geegees Rock Opera to an impressive all-the-way win over 1350 metres in Devonport on Wednesday.
Kok, who finished fourth on the Singapore apprentices premiership table last season, is apprenticed to top Singapore trainer Steve Burridge.
Kok has been transferred to the care of Brighton-based Hall of Fame trainer Leon Wells.
The 23-year-old arrived in Tasmania mid-December on a three-month arrangement made possible by Tasracing’s apprentice jockey program manager Stephen Maskiell.
Geegees Rock Opera was his 23rd ride but, given the way he has been coming to terms with Tasmanian racing, he shouldn’t have to wait as long for his second win.
“I am so happy to finally get a winner here in Tasmania,” Kok said after the race.
“My horse performed extremely well and fought it out right to the end.
“Geegees Rock Opera is actually a horse I rode at my first day. The instructions were to go forward. There was some crazy pressure on the outside, but we eventually got an easy lead.
“I am starting to understand how to ride the three main tracks here in Tasmania and the Devonport track is similar to the Kranji track at home.”
Kok has also notched a few minor placings since he arrived but none more impressive than his ride aboard rank outsider Settler’s Stone, who he partnered into equal third place in the $100,000 Devonport Cup on Wednesday.
He had the John Blackertrained gelding settled near the rear and three-wide but with cover and acting on riding instructions he sent the gelding around the field from the 700metre mark and rode him out strongly to dead-heat for third with another outsider, Kranji.
It was his second ride aboard Settler’s Stone, having finished fourth on the gelded son of Savoire Vivre at his previous start in the Sheffield Cup over 1650 metres in Devonport just prior to Christmas.
Connections of Settler’s Stone are considering staying with Kok for the balance of the gelding’s preparation, which includes the Group 3 Hobart and Launceston cups over 2400m next month.
Kok could be the first of many Singapore apprentices to ride in Tasmania on threemonth permits.
Tasmania has had a shortage of apprentices for years, which is why Maskiell has been working to find ways of growing apprentice numbers with Asia a prime target.
Hong Kong apprentices have enjoyed a lot of success in Tasmania with Victor Wong the latest to have earned his stripes over two years here with Team Wells before returning home.
Hong Kong youngster Scarlet So has spent three months on loan to Leon Wells and is likely to secure a two-yearvisa, which will allow her to be fully indentured to Wells.
Another Hong Kong apprentice Peter Lui spent three months with Wells last year and his new visa has just been approved to allow him to start a two-year stint with Wells.
Also arriving at the end of the month will be two trackwork riders from Hong Kong, which will help to alleviate the shortage of trackwork riders being experienced in Tasmania. LEADING trainer Chris Waller was talking about a threepeat only minutes after his stayer Tumultuous became the third horse to win back-toback $1 million Magic Millions Trophies on Saturday.
Tumultuous ($4.20) was too strong at the end of the 2200m beating Goodfella ($5) by a neck with a long neck to Black On Gold ($9) in third place.
He followed Tinto (2014-15) and Drizzle (2007-08) to win consecutive Trophies. Waller said Tumultuous was the ideal horse for the Gold Coast race.
“He won it last year and we set him to win it again right back then. So why wouldn’t we set it for the same race yet again,” Waller said.
“One thing the pressure will be a lot less next time. He has won since but not done much and he is a summer horse.
“But this meeting is great for everyone involved and it is a pleasure to win a race.”
Tumultuous originally cost $350,000 but has more than repaid his owners headed by one of Waller’s biggest clients in Noel Greenhalgh.
The gelding has now won $1.4 million with a large percentage on Millions day. Robbie Fradd produced a railhugging ride on Tumultuous.
“We were able to get a great run from barrier one and the gap opened up on the turn,” he said.
HOT APPRENTICE: Simon Kok urges Geegees Rock Opera to victory on Devonport Cup Day.