4 March 2018

Kok in a Rush for better things

The kudos continue to pour in for young apprentice jockey Simon Kok Wei Hoong after he booted home his first riding double on Sunday.

The Ipoh-born 22-year-old only began his fledgling riding career on January 23, riding a winner at his very first day at school – aboard Autumn Rush for his boss Steven Burridge at only his second ride.

It is that same Autumn Rush who has now handed the dressage-trained jockey another milestone on Sunday – his first brace after earlier scoring aboard the Mohd Yusof-trained Joyous. 

Interestingly, Autumn Rush’s three-quarter-length win in the $80,000 Class 3 race over 1000m, was the first come-from-behind win for Kok. His first three wins all came from the front.

While such diversity in riding styles always helps in steering clear of any “one-trick pony” label for any rider, senior or junior, Kok modestly attributed the win to his boss’s instructions.

“I’m very happy to get a second win today. The first earlier win in a Class 5 race over 1600m was a different experience and it worked out well,” said Kok.

“Autumn Rush ran very well again, and he also gave me my first win. I am very grateful to my boss and the owners for letting me ride such a good horse.

“There was a fast pace to the race and I just wanted to think positive, jump him well and tuck him in behind the speed, and he ran on at the right time to win the race.”

From barrier No 11, the Keano five-year-old actually did not “tuck in” so well, but even though he was trapped three to four wide the whole trip, he did get a semblance of cover behind Silkino (Ryan Curatolo).

But his salvation came from the helter-skelter rush to the front with five horses scrambling for the coveted spot for the first half of the scamper. The relentless pace probably enabled Autumn Rush ($87) to settle quite relaxed about four lengths astern.

Inevitably, those who had worn themselves out upfront could not quite go on with the job. Leader Dragon Spirit (Chin See Cheng) and former Group 3 Juvenile Championship winner Mystic Master (Alan Munro) were the first to show the white flag, a scenario which would lean towards the one expected by the vast majority – odds-on favourite Filibuster (Michael Rodd) sending her rivals packing as she came poking her head through the pack at the 300m.

But the $7 hotpot, who also raced deep from an awkward alley, sent out distress signals instead. Rodd got stuck into the previously unbeaten filly, but she was as flat as a pancake.

Mokastar (Barend Vorster), on the other hand, was looking the goods for Ricardo Le Grange (starved of a win since Nowyousee on February 4) when he hit the front, but it proved insufficient when Autumn Rush sling shot his way from midfield to land the spoils with half-a-length to spare from Mokastar.

Yulong Fast Steed (Vlad Duric) flew from the ruck to finish third another 1 ½ lengths away. The winning time was 59.59 seconds for the 1000m on the Polytrack.

“He’s a honest horse, but can be a bit awkward. Today I told the kid to ride him quiet as I thought they would go mad in front, and he also drew wide,” said the Australian handler, who was incidentally reclaiming the lead from Michael Clements (Friday hat-trick saw the Zimbabwean-born handler wrest the lead) with that win.

“He also picked up 10 points after his last win, which I thought was a bit harsh, but Simon rode him a treat. He’s certainly going well the lad.”

With that fourth win, Autumn Rush has now seen his stakes earnings snowball past the $180,000 mark for the EZ Stable.