Our Smiling Te Akau Apprentice Joe

Date: 11 Jan 2022

Our Smiling Te Akau Apprentice Joe

 

Six winners within week for Te Akau apprentice Joe Kamaruddin, represents great progress.

Kamaruddin (28) won aboard Fellini (Belardo) in $35,000 2YO 1200 metres on 9 January at Ellerslie, rounding out a winning week that included Maven Belle (Burgundy), Exaltation (Not A Single Doubt) and Burgundy Rose (Burgundy) for Te Akau, and two for other stables.

Third leading apprentice with 23 wins, behind compatriots Kozzi Asano (33 wins), a former Champion Apprentice, and Kavish Chowdhoory (29 wins), Kamaruddin has eyes on the prize.

“I got a nice spot behind leader on Fellini and had room when I pushed out into the straight,” he said. “He's still a little bit green, but he finished off well. He is a nice horse and quite strong.

 

 

Te Akau has won previous five Karaka Million 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m). Four of those were ridden by stable rider Opie Bosson: Melody Belle (Commands), Avantage (Fastnet Rock), Probabeel (Savabeel), and Cool Aza Beel (Savabeel), while Johnathan Parkes was aboard On the Bubbles (Brazen Beau) last year.

On 3 January at Te Aroha, Kamaruddin combined with debutante homebred filly Maven Belle (Burgundy) for a smart win in a Maiden 2YO 1000 metres.

 

 

“Maven Belle is a nice horse, too,” he said. “I planned before the 600m that I wouldn't go three wide and saw Craig Grylls' horse was flat, so I waited and pushed off the rail in the straight.

“When we went to the barrier, she felt so good and I thought she can win. I was very confident. Jamie said she could be a bit funny in gates, but she was quiet, found a nice spot, didn't pulling and was nicely on bit, and was too good.

“It has been a good week for me and I'm feeling more confident. Not too much thinking, but feeling that sometimes the horse is going to win.

“When I rode Exaltation at Otaki, she jumped good but not enough speed to be where we planned, one off and one back. Plan B, from fourth last I followed three wide horses and she finished very strong.

 

 

“Burgundy Rose at Rotorua, there were four horses that might lead and I just had a look after she jumped. She was not that fast, but I was happy in fourth. She wanted to get going at the 600m, but I held on to her and talked to her ‘go easy', waited for straight, and boom.

“I like Burgundy Rose. She is nice to ride and very quiet. I also really like Maven Belle. She is a fast horse.”

 

 

Mid-December, Kamaruddin gained his first stakes success when Belle En Rouge (Burgundy) won Eulogy Stakes (Gr. 3, 1600m) at Awapuni. The filly had previously finished third in 1000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m), in Te Akau first four, and since the Eulogy added the Eight Carat Classic (Gr. 2, 1600m) on Boxing Day at Ellerslie.

 

 

Belle En Rouge is another homebred, born and raised at Te Akau, and Kamaruddin is grateful for the opportunity extended by principal David Ellis CNZM.

“He supports me and a very good boss for me,” he said. “He respects me and I respect him. He messages me and says ‘well done, I'm so proud of you' and asks me how I'm going.

“I want to be Champion Apprentice this season. That is my plan but we will have to see how it goes.

“It was a great day when I won on Belle En Rouge at Awapuni, and I was so happy. I felt I needed to be confident in myself. I rode her in her first start at Hawera, for a very close second to Lisa (Allpress), and she's good.”

Champion Trainer Jamie Richards has helped nurture the career of Kamaruddin and is happy with his progress.

“He's growing in confidence and obviously getting on some nice horses,” he said. “For example, on Exaltation it was a beautiful ride, almost an Opie Bosson-type, where he sat back, came out at the right time on the corner, balanced her up and he's great value at two-kilos (weight claim).

“He can put them to sleep in a race. He had Maven Belle, Burgundy Rose, and Fellini all in beautiful spots. Instead of being caught napping at the 600m, like some can be when they're learning, he has been up and after them and putting himself in a winning position.

“Joe is a big part of our team. He rides a lot of work, is great with his times in terms of riding gallops and always gives good feedback. He's also such a happy person to have around, as well. He's always got a smile on his face.

 

 

“He's growing in confidence, getting on a better class of horse and as that happens he's beginning to make better decisions when you've only got a split second to make them. He's also very strong and effective in the closing stages of a race. I'm really proud of his development.”

Kamaruddin has also benefitted greatly, as do all apprentice jockeys, from tutelage of Riding Master Noel Harris, Hall of Fame inductee with over 2000 wins.

“He's improved, Joe, and even Gus Clutterbuck texted me the other day and said he's riding well,” said Harris, relating to Kamaruddin initially working for Te Akau trainer Mark Walker in Singapore, where Clutterbuck was assistant trainer and his wife Karen oversaw the administration.

“Early on, nothing was happening for him but it's all a confidence thing. His future looked a bit ordinary, but it all kicked off when he won on Challa on the premier day at Hastings. His confidence picked up after that and it's snowballed.

“Up until them, he was trying too hard, over-riding them and trying to make some slow horses go fast. He's a good listener and when he walks into Apprentice School he's so bubbly and lights up the whole school. He's got a good attitude, nature, work ethic, and wants to learn.

“Even the good riders can't win on slow horses, but once they believe in themselves and allow themselves time then they can get there and some learn a bit quicker than others.

“All the senior jockeys talk about winning group and listed races, like Ashvin (Goindasamy) winning a Group 1 on Tiptronic on Boxing Day at Ellerslie, it's big for an apprentice and you see a lot of top jockeys in Australia that still haven't won a Group 1. Joe winning the Eulogy was a big thing.

“You get riders like Opie Bosson, who has an X factor and it comes naturally to him but he has worked very hard at it too. I keep saying to the apprentices, you're only as good as your last winner and it is a rollercoaster. I say, getting to the top is easier than staying there.”

 

 

Harris also commented on the overall state of apprentice jockey ranks.

“I've got three probationers coming through and we'll get them licensed by the end of March. The horses go a bit too quick for them over summer, so it's better kicking them off through winter when the tracks slow up a bit and their four-kilo claims are better utilized.

“We've had 24 wins with the apprentices over Christmas/New Year, so I'm very proud of them especially at a time when some of the three and four-kilo claimers don't get a lot of rides in the summer.

“It's more the senior apprentices that have stepped up, but they're all going okay. I'm happy with the range of young jockeys we've got coming through. There is good competition between them and that helps as well. I tell them a good winner is a good loser, too.”

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