Racing

Animal lover Jerlyn lands dream job

Now an apprentice jockey, she gets her chance to work with horses

It was always going to happen. It was just a matter of when and how.

After all, everything in Jerlyn Seow Poh Hui's early life pointed towards a future working with animals.

Now, at the age of 27, she has got all that she ever wanted in life.

She will, from now on, work with animals. Hopefully, when the new racing season begins in January, they in turn will work for her.

Seow could not be happier.

The young lady is now a licensed apprentice jockey - and she is galloping into the future with eyes wide open.

"None of my family or friends are in the racing industry," said Seow, who lives in a HDB flat at Canberra with her 32-year-old husband, Clifford Lum.

Of course, sharing their living space are five cats and a dog.

"The first time I saw horse racing was on TV. It was a Hong Kong drama called On The Track Or Off. I found it interesting," she said.

While working at a cafe for dogs, Seow went online, sourcing for jobs at horse stables.

"I thought I could work part-time as a syce, but I was told it was not possible," she said. "So I called the Singapore Turf Club again after that, and they recommended I worked fulltime at trainer Leslie Khoo's stable."

That was in December 2014. She was, so to speak, in the starting gates of an exciting career.

However, all was not smooth going. The first bump came when she was dropped out three months into a six month-long track riding course at Singapore Training Academy for Racing (STAR) in 2016.

Though discouraged, she pressed on.

Senior track rider Mick Lockett then set her up to work as a syce and track rider for trainer Steven Burridge.

That was in 2017.

All went well, but when she had a fall and injured her ankle, her worried parents decided that was not a job for their daughter.

It was nine months before she could ride again.

It took her some time to reassure her parents that she could take care of herself around horses. Her persistence finally won them over.

In 2018, she joined trainer Mark Walker's yard. From then, things certainly took off.

Walker was very supportive. She was soon being legged up on some really good horses.

So, what is life like now?

"Being a jockey means you need to have the basic fitness, strength and stamina," she shared.

"I used to go to gyms to exercise besides riding horses, but now, I work out at home a few days a week as well.

"Alysha (Collett) once shared with me she did '100-set reps', like 100 squats, 100 burpees and 100 push-ups. I tried that and got tired towards the end."

Despite the challenge and the uncertainty of racing amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Seow has never regretted her decision to become a jockey.

"I know it is not easy. To me, girls in this trade have to work doubly hard as we are not physically as strong as guys," said the petite lass, who rides at 49kg to 50kg.

"However, I am thankful for the advice given by my male colleagues. I like the riding style of Michael Rodd, Benny Woodworth, Marc Lerner and Juan Paul van der Merwe. I look up to them."

With her riding licence secured, Seow is looking forward to the next best thing - to participate in an actual race.

"I am hoping to start race-riding next season and I will take it from there."

HORSE RACING