Chadwick back for unfinished business
Hong Kong jockey Matthew Chadwick chose Singapore over Australia for a "working holiday", but the warmer climate is not the main draw.
The 25-year-old rider is no stranger to Kranji, having ridden in the 2011 Singapore Airlines International Cup, finishing out of the placings aboard cult horse California Memory, a ride for which he took a bit of a roasting.
The noted backmarker stunned the racing world when he came spearing over from a wide berth to take the lead before disappearing out of the race at the 300m mark.
Chadwick, the first Hong Kong jockey to win the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup (2,000m) with California Memory in 2011 before doubling the deed in 2012, did say he felt he had some "unfinished business" in Singapore.
But the two main reasons he picked the Lion City were that he wanted to maintain his competitiveness and fitness edge during the Hong Kong racing break, especially after bouncing back from injury, and Singapore was warmer than Australia.
Adopted by a couple of British teachers from young, the former Hong Kong champion apprentice jockey has won close to 300 races, including four at Group 1 level.
He will be riding at Kranji for the next five weeks or so, just in time for the resumption of hostilities for another brand new season in the former British colony on Sept 3.
"After that ride on California Memory in 2011, I've always wanted to come back here and make amends. I felt I had to show Singapore what my true ability was," said Chadwick, who arrived in Singapore yesterday week, along with his wife and two-year-old daughter and was seen at the Kranji meeting the following night.
"I'm always looking to go somewhere during the past few off-seasons, and I've always wanted to come and ride here, but couldn't for various reasons, mostly because I always had things to do," he said.
"I went to UK in 2012 and won the Silver Saddle at the Shergar Cup. I was in the Rest Of The World Team with Yutaka Take and Aaron Gryder, finished second three times before winning the last race on Mince.
"I ended up staying longer there and eventually rode three winners from 20 rides, which was pretty good.
"But I felt this year was the right time to come to Singapore even if at first, I also had the Australian option, but the bonus is the nicer weather in Singapore."
Chadwick, who honed his craft in New South Wales, could have gone Down Under to return to his old school, but was glad he ticked the Singapore box.
"I know there are a lot more expat riders here now, but I relish the challenge. I'm here to try my best and hopefully I can make a fist of it," said Chadwick, who was at his first day of trackwork on Tuesday.
"I am thankful to the Singapore Turf Club for the chance they have given me. My philosophy is if you keep working hard, the results will come.
"I will be riding for some Hong Kong owners and also for the Lucky Stable. For a first week, I've been booked for five rides on Friday and four rides on Sunday, which is not too bad.
"I don't know all the rides, but I know I've got a few for Leticia Dragon and two for Leslie Khoo (Sing Roulette and Man Of Power). It's quite a good start."
Chadwick, who can ride at around 51.5kg, is keen to get as much support as possible during his brief passage as, to him, his fitness can only improve with more rides.
"I need to get my fitness back, especially with the muscle in my right leg," said Chadwick, who also spent part of his childhood in Singapore, where his parents were stationed for a while.
"My right leg is already my weak leg as I was born with a dislocated patella and that is exactly where I hurt myself in a barrier accident.
"I had to go for major knee reconstruction which was quite complex as my doctors had to make sure they did not make the other muscle in my thigh worse.
"That's why I missed out most of the last season and only started riding back in February.
"It was hard to get back into it, especially with Joao Moreira and Zac Purton getting the pick of the rides, but luckily John Size put me on a winner and it's picked up since.
"It's only towards the end of the season in the last 10 meetings that I started to ride more winners, mainly for Tony Cruz. I did get a personal trainer to improve on my fitness as he can really pinpoint which area I need to work on, but I was still not 100% happy with my fitness, especially with the lack of muscle around my thigh, hamstring and quads.
"I was off so long, for almost half the season. It's taken me two months to get my fitness back and I didn't want to lose it even more during the break and that's why I wanted to keep riding.
"The next five weeks in Singapore will be all about keeping fit, both mentally and physically, and hopefully I can also ride a lot of winners."