Winning Treble for Smiling Te Akau Apprentice Joe

Date: 11 Jun 2021

Winning Treble for Smiling Te Akau Apprentice Joe


Te Akau prides itself on giving young people opportunities in both the racing and agricultural industries.

Making a name for himself, Te Akau apprentice jockey Joe Kamaruddin was recently named ‘Ellerslie Apprentice Jockey of the Year' at the Auckland Racing Club awards, and backed that up by taking out the Apprentice Jockeys' Challenge on Thursday at New Plymouth.


Points were awards in each of six races contested by apprentices, with Kamaruddin a clear winner after bagging three wins, second, and fourth.

The ARC awards were based on strike rate for the season. Kamaruddin had four wins from 20 rides, for a strike rate of 5, only one behind (4) former Te Akau apprentices Opie Bosson and Troy Harris who shared Ellerslie ‘Jockey of the Year'. Champion trainer Jamie Richards won the Ellerslie ‘Trainer of the Year' title.

At the beginning of May, when Kamaruddin finished second aboard Top Brass (Epaulette) in a race won by stable-mate Supreme Khan (Mongolian Khan), Te Akau principal David Ellis CNZM rightfully predicted favourable results.



“It was a good effort by Joe on Top Brass and he backed it up with wins on both Summer Monsoon and Leaderboard later in the day,” Ellis said.

“Sometimes it takes time for these apprentices to get going, but I could see in his riding that he was working hard and diligently and it was all coming together with him.  He also, importantly, listens to advice he is given and all this is evident in the patience he is showing and the way the horses are running for him.



“It won't be long and he'll be getting full books of rides, especially as the tracks get wetter and he can utilize his three-kilo claim. Joe works really hard, is well liked at the stable, and he's a great asset.”

Fair to say it was a quiet start for the Malaysian-born (Kelantan) jockey with one winner from 42 rides in his first two seasons but, flourishing in recent times, he now has 29 wins on the board.

What has been the difference?

“A lot of our apprentices have really stepped up, including Joe,” said Riding Master Noel Harris.

“He didn't have a lot of confidence when he first got his licence, but he's a big improver. I said to Jamie (Richards) after Joe won on Challa at Te Rapa and Hawkes Bay early in the season, going to the front was beautiful and a good way to build confidence.



“He was trying too hard, over riding them, which a lot of apprentices do, but they just want to succeed, and I tell them less whip and more rhythm and balance.

“We kept persevering with him and he was doing all the basics right. He just had to slow things down and since he's done that, everything has begun clicking for him.

“It's about getting these kids to believe in themselves. Joe's got a great character and when he comes to apprentice school he lights up the room. I nicknamed him Premier Joe. We always clap and congratulate each other when they walk in after they've ridden winners.

“He went through the minimum 25 trial rides before he got his licence and was kicking himself because he couldn't get winners. But, once apprentice get the winners and with those, the confidence and belief, then they are away. It's just a matter of guiding them after that.

“I've got a lot of time for Joe. He's tried hard and he's persevered. You can't do it without the horses and he's got great opportunities with Te Akau, but we've just had to go through the videos, point out the mistakes and get him to slow things down.

“He's got a great love for it and a good attitude to be in racing. He's got a great nature. I know Jamie doesn't give him too many instructions, rather a couple of plans in the race and thus tries not to put too much pressure on.

“In summer time I tell them to save ground. I say that Sunline couldn't win if she was five wide, but maybe Winx could.

“They travel a lot and use their allowances. Four-kilos until they ride 10 winners, 30 winners at three-kilos, up to 80 at two-kilos, and now 139 until they lose the one kg.

“But, it's great what winners can do to really lift them.”



Although away from home, Kamaruddin lives with his partner Nardia Zainal, a stable-hand at Te Akau.

“Every couple of days we video call our families,” he said. “I am successful as a jockey now, and my Mum and Dad and brother and sister are very happy for me.

“I ride up to 13 horses in work in the mornings for Te Akau and there is no stress. I like the people I work with because they are happy and I enjoy seeing them every morning. It is a very good team spirit and I like the job.

“David (Ellis) is very good because he's helped me with everything, talks to me and helps me to understand. So does (Riding Master) Noel Harris at apprentice school. Noel helps me too. I like talking with Noel and understand when he talks to me because he rode a lot in Malaysia and knows a little bit of Malay. Not too much, but a little bit.

“We are very happy here in Matamata, it is a good life. From a long time ago dreaming to be a jockey and now I am here and my dream has come true, so what I am thinking now is that we want to stay in New Zealand.”

While getting through a quiet start in the game, Kamaruddin sought advice from friend Shafiq (Suppy) Rusof, a former Te Akau apprentice and twice Champion Apprentice in Singapore, who, along with successful jockey Harry Kasim, is also from Kelantan, Malaysia.

“Suppy said ‘You just relax, believe you can do it', and then I have my first win. After one more month I get another win and now I keep riding winners. I have more confidence and my horses are winning.

“Jamie (Richards) always tells me to use my brain, believe in myself and that I am out there to ride my own race and believe that I am king.”

Trainer Jamie Richards summed him up: “He's a little champion. He walks into work each morning at 3.45 a.m., always with a smile on his face, and he's happy to help with anything that needs to be done.

“He's a pleasure to have around and now he's figured it out he's really starting to kick home some winners.”




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