22 March 2018

Autumn to show he can dodge early Rush again

Promising apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong has done well to shake off the “one-dimensional front-running jockey tag” that could have stuck with him sooner rather than later following his last come-from-behind win aboard Autumn Rush.

The Ipoh-born apprentice jockey’s first three career wins from the front made for stats that had certainly not gone unnoticed by most. The same Autumn Rush went all the way to hand Kok his first win at his very first day in the office at Kranji on January 23, with Lim’s Racer and Joyous subsequently doing ditto.

But Kok showed the leading pattern might have after all been just a coincidence at his fourth and last win when he brought Autumn Rush with a well-timed run to land the Class 3 race over 1000m on March 4 in a driving finish.
What impressed observers the most was not so much Kok’s wider repertoire of tactics than thought, but how he used his noddle in the face of adversity, how he had a clock in his head. The 22-year-old showed a maturity beyond his years by reading the pace of the race to a tee before deciding the right thing to do was to take a drop on the leaders.

Seeing the charge of the light brigade ahead of him, Kok wisely steered clear of the mad “Rush”. Granted, he was lucky to get cover behind Silkino even after being caught three wide, but his patience paid off when Autumn Rush emerged as the fresh legs on the scene inside the last 200m to go and nab Mokastar by three parts of a length.

Next out, the vastly-improved Keano five-year-old has again had no luck at the barriers in Friday’s $100,000 Kranji Stakes B race over 1000m on the Polytrack, having drawn 10 from 12.

Trainer Steven Burridge is unsurprisingly sticking with his apprentice jockey for the ride. Kok has as usual done his homework, but is again prepared to play it by ear come raceday.

“It was not in my plans to drop back at his last start. They just went too fast in front,” said Kok whose only other booking on Friday is aboard the James Peters-trained Macarthur in the next race.

“I was lucky I was able to tuck in behind a horse and it just played into our hands. When he came to the outside, he quickened up very well.

“Autumn Rush is a horse I know very well. He’s maintained his form since, but has again drawn wide. It will all depend on the speedmap of the race again.

“Sebas and a few other speedy horses like Oxbow Sun will go forward. Hopefully I can get a nice suck-up in behind the speed.”

Autumn Rush, who has bagged three of his four wins (1000m to 1100m) by showing the way, will be Burridge’s only runner for Friday’s standalone meeting. The Australian was suitably impressed by the last success, but remained realistic about a fifth win for the EZ Stable-owned galloper.

Burridge is not too concerned by the awkward alley, especially as he’s been there done that, but more the tougher test against better horses.

“He has drawn wide again. We thought the wide gate would be a problem last time, but he won by coming from way back,” said Burridge.

“He was actually in a good place in the race and he won again. I’m very happy with the way he’s progressed, even if he doesn’t seem to run any further than 1000m and 1100m at this stage.

“Simon knows the horse very well and will ride him where he is comfortable again. He gets four kilos off, which will bring him down to 54kgs, but it’s also a stronger field he’s running against.

“I think there will be plenty of speed in the race. Sebas, Nova Missile and Kratos will all go forward, and hopefully that will give us a chance to take a sit just off the speed.

“Winning form is good form.”

Burridge, who shares the same number of winners as Michael Clements on 16 and still leads on a countback for seconds, is aware his days at the top could be numbered with his solitary representative while Clements and even the others right behind, like Mark Walker, Shane Baertschiger and Lee Freedman all send out bigger teams.

“It wasn’t planned (to have just one runner on Friday), it just worked out that way,” he said.

“A lot of my horses have either reached their mark or are sore. I need to plan their races well.”