Racing

Amirul does it on Wecando

Talented apprentice breaks lean spell

To go 10 weeks without a winner may not be such a big deal for other apprentice jockeys.

After all, as the word "apprentice" implies, they're still learning the trade and are not expected to be high on winners.

But some are more talented than others and Amirul Ismadi falls into that category. He's been seen as a rising star and very much in demand.

So, to go without a winner since May 5 must have seemed like a real long time for the young rider.

But, and as they say, every dark cloud has a silver lining - you just have to wait for a rainy day.

And, as we now know, the clouds gathered and rain it did on Sunday.

That was when Amirul's silver lining shone through.

Riding Wecando in the seventh on Derby Day, he broke that lean spell- and all was well, again.

He did it in the best possible way - by beating a talented field of horses and riders over the 1,400m.

If anything was blowing after the race, it wasn't the horse but Amirul, who would have heaved a huge sigh of relief.

The Ipoh-born rider had been winless since May 5 when he scored on Spur Me On. So it was on a horse appropriately-named Wecando, that he did it.

Riding the rails from the start, Amirul bided his time on Stephen Gray-trained runner until a gap presented itself as the weakening leader Crown Gift (Yusoff Fadzli) rolled off at the top of the straight.

But there was still a job to do.

The much-fancied China Horse Club pair of Nationality, ridden by visiting rider Tommy Berry, and Karisto, the mount of another top Australian rider Ben Melham, were still very much in the picture and threatening.

Wecando, ridden hard by Amirul, kept finding something extra and eventually held off the charging pair.

On the line, just a length separated the first three horses.

"It's been quite some time since I visited the winner's circle," said a relieved Amirul.

"I really didn't expect the horse to run so well. He can progress through his grades."

Gray, who part-owns Wecando, was pleased as punch his stable apprentice jockey has found the line after such a long drought.

"It was a beautiful ride by Amirul. I'm really pleased for him as he's had a bit of a lean run," said the Kiwi handler.

"I told him to just stick at it, stick at it. He's a good boy and a good rider.

"I was a bit concerned by the step-up in class for the horse. He picked up eight points and was running in a good field, but he won a nice race in the end."

A last-start winner in a Class 4 Division 2 race over 1,400m on June 15, Wecando was bringing up his fourth win in nine outings and more than $165,000 in prize money for the Elaine Chen Stable.

As for punters who kept the faith with Amirul, they were rewarded with a nice $43 payout on the win.

HORSE RACING