Singapore gold cup-winning jockey John dies
Former Singapore Gold Cup-winning jockey John Arokiasamy, or affectionately known as A John in the local racing circle, died from heart failure on Wednesday.
He was 51.
He was cremated at Mandai Crematorium yesterday afternoon.
A genial and soft-spoken man, the Malaysian and Singapore permanent resident's greatest moment was when he captured the Singapore Gold Cup on the Malcolm Thwaites-trained Trend Defy in 1988 at the old Bukit Timah racecourse.
The following year, Thwaites provided him with a Singapore Derby success aboard Istanbul.
In Malaysia, the forceful lightweight rider won the 1991 Tunku Gold Cup in Kuala Lumpur on the Francis Nathan-trained Adelaide Proud and the 1998 Penang Governor's Gold Cup on the M Ismail-trained Great Machine.
John started his riding career in 1985 but had to hang up his riding boots in 2004 because of fewer riding opportunities and a recurring back problem. He then dabbled in some marine sub-contracting business.
His best season was 1993 with 20 winners. In all, he rode 195 winners, the last being Nuclear Weapon on April 19, 2002.
He did make a comeback to competitive riding in June 2010 but it was unfortunately shortlived after his back and knee injuries came back to haunt him.
Racing had been in his blood and he was certainly pleased and eager when he was granted a licence by the Malaysian Racing Association for his comeback.
He had told me then: "It's always a good feeling to be riding. Many times I thought I had enough already but the urge to ride and to be with horses is always there.
"I'll give it a good shot. See how it goes. Even if I am not riding, I would probably get a ground job with one of the stables."
It was quite sad indeed that he had to give up again after working so hard to get back into fitness to continue his passion with riding. Although, he was granted the licence in March, he waited until June to be absolutely sure he was ready to don racing silks again.
He had said: "You never want to be rushed into it. You want to make sure you're stronger and make sure you're confident of yourself first. I think I'm confident now."
Alas, it was not to be. After a handful of rides, his racing dream fizzled out again.
Trainer Leslie Khoo was one of those who supported John in his comeback and was sad to hear the news of his passing.
"He was not a bad jockey. He had very good judgment. He was a nice chap, very soft-spoken and friendly," said Khoo.