Te Akau Apprentices Awarded

Date: 20 Dec 2022

Te Akau Apprentices Awarded


Te Akau apprentice jockeys Joe Kamaruddin and Niranjan Parmar each received awards at the recent Northern Apprentice Academy prize giving.

Reigning Champion Apprentice, Kamaruddin (29) won Apprentice Jockey of the Year (sponsored by Auckland Apprentice School) and Parmar (25) won Most Improved Apprentice Jockey (sponsored by Lee Somervell).

The overall event, which included a trip to Off Road NZ in Rotorua, was again sponsored by Tony Rider (Milan Park).

Kamaruddin is currently second on the apprentice table this season with 27 wins, which includes recent success aboard La Flora Belle (Iffraaj) in the Wanganui Cup (Listed, 2040m). Trained by Mark Walker, La Flora Belle is a three-quarter sister to former star stable-mate and dual Horse of the Year Melody Belle (Commands).

Purchased as a yearling for $57,500 by David Ellis CNZM at Karaka, Melody Belle retired as the winner of 14 Group One races - surpassing 13 by Sunline (Desert Sun) - 19 from 41 in total and $4.3 million prize money, before selling as a broodmare for $2.6m.

During a season that included his 100thcareer win, since beginning in 2019, Kamaruddin rode 62 winners to finish fifth in the overall Jockeys' Premiership, while subsequent tied Te Akau NZB Filly of the Year Belle En Rouge (Burgundy) provided the first of four stakes' victories for 'smiling Joe' when winning the Eulogy Stakes (Gr. 3, 1600m) last December.



“I'm so lucky to work for Te Akau, who have many good horses and my boss is very good at supporting me. I have Stu Laing as my manager and having managed Lance O'Sullivan he gives me great guidance too,” Kamaruddin said.

“Other trainers put me on good horses, too, and I'm here. My goal this season is to win a Group One, one day. I don't know when, but one day.” he added with his customary laugh.

Niranjan Parmar is also making a great fist of his chosen career in the saddle and 19 wins this season puts him among the top 15 jockeys.

Parmar was born in a village in Rajasthan, but raised in Mumbai. He attained his jockey licence in India, and had 60 rides before coming to New Zealand.



Earlier in the year, Parmar rose from virtual apprentice obscurity with two tremendous winning rides on Wellington Cup Day at Trentham, and the tall, willowy, lad showed his confidence was blooming with a brilliant ride aboard Perfect Scenario (Iffraaj) in the Rating 74 1550 metres on 11 February at Awapuni.

“Mark (Walker) is a really nice person to work for and he really helps me,” Parmar said. “He has been getting me to practice changing the whip over to use in both hands, so I've been doing that in trials and now in races.

“Michael Thompson is managing my rides and he's doing a good job. We started working together this season and he's getting me on horses for other trainers when I don't have a ride for Te Akau.

“I watch the top jockeys and people tell me, first, you've got to balance your horses, then ask them to run. So, I try to follow what they say and it's working pretty well at the moment.

“Noel Harris (Riding Master) helps us at Apprentice School and goes through our rides on video to point out what we are doing right and wrong.”

Parmar experienced his first stakes' success in November when Seajetz (Iffraaj) won the Karaka Classic (Listed, 1500m) on Melbourne Cup Day at Pukekohe.  The victory was fitting, with the horse having been selected and purchased by David Ellis CNZM, and previously trained by Jamie Richards.



Harris, who treats them like his own, has helped create a camaraderie among the apprentices and says the achievements of Kamaruddin and Parmar are products of that and their own commitment.

“It was a great boost to Joe that he won the Premiership and I was really happy for him,” Harris said. “Especially because he gave 110 percent and he got rewarded for it.

“He's a very likeable person and lights up when he comes into the Apprentice School. He's got a beautiful demeanour and the right temperament.

“He's got a challenge on his hands this season, with Kelsey Hannan leading the apprentices at the moment. But it's good competition with Tayla Mitchell, Wiremu Pinn, and Parmar, all going well too. The competition makes them stand up and keeps them focussed.

“But Joe is being rewarded with nicer rides and he just has to slow things down a bit, keep working on doing that. He's still an apprentice and they can only keep improving.”

“Parmar has come a long way in short time,” Harris said. “He had the rides in India, and when he started riding here at the trials I thought he was quite tidy for a tall boy.

“He's copped a few suspensions and I'm part of a riding panel outside of apprentice school that helps jockeys with any indiscretions. All apprentices go through stages, and he's also getting help from senior jockeys like Opie Bosson.”

Overall, Harris is happy with the number of apprentices in lieu of some retirements among the senior ranks.

“There is a good number (about 35 in Northern Apprentice School) and the competition is good, which I'm pleased about and it brings the best out in them,” he said. “We've got half a dozen apprentices among the top 20 jockeys in the premiership.

“I'm encouraging them to save ground over the summer months and it's a good look when they do win.

“The new Te Akau apprentice Hakim Kamaruddin is a nice boy and he's riding well. He's sits well and has a couple of wins now, so he'll be underway and he had amazing success with Mark (Walker) in Singapore.”



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