Like father, like sons
Nygel Teeha, 12, and Nyann, 5, want to be jockeys like dad Benny Woodworth, a local riding legend
Donning red-and-white racing silks sewn by his mum from a Manchester United jersey with a matching skullcap, white breeches and black boots, five-year-old Nyann Woodworth pushed and whipped furiously.
No, he was not on a 500kg sweaty thoroughbred but on a do-it-yourself "horse" made from a punching bag - complete with saddle, stirrups and bridle.
The jockey wannabe is starting very young, indeed.
But he appears to have potential on his good balance and nice rhythm with his "horse" from the video of his riding.
He could be a future champion like daddy, Benny Woodworth, one of the best jockeys Singapore and Malaysia have produced.
The 47-year-old Malaysian, who has not ridden since the shutdown of Singapore racing in early April due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has been coaching and having fun with his sons on the DIY horse in their Johor home.
A doting father, Woodworth is not against Nyann or his 12-year-old stepson, Nygel Teeha, taking up riding as a career when they grow up.
His wife, Andrianna Mathuvirin, may be a former racing journalist in Mauritius, but she prefers her sons to complete their tertiary education first.
"My wife doesn't like it because my elder son is very smart. He's going to Form 3 this September at an international school. He's very keen to become a jockey but she told him he will have to finish university first, then he can be a jockey," said Woodworth.
"But he is quite talented. I told him I will stop riding when he becomes a jockey. The small one, for now, is just trying to copy his brother, maybe he will change his mind later.
"Race-riding is a dangerous andheartbreaking job. You must have support from trainers and owners to be able to make it."
While his sons still have a long time to rethink, Woodworth is hoping Singapore racing can resume soon. He's dying for action, after being shut out for more than three months.
He last rode at Kranji on March 7, garnering a double (Yulong Edition and Ironclad).
As a jockey, whose fitness is paramount, Woodworth knows he cannot just sit idly and wait for racing to resume. He has been keeping fit by walking and practising on his DIY horse.
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"Lucky for me, I stay in a landed property where the yard is quite big and I could do my exercises. I am only waiting for the club to confirm the date for me to come back," he said.
Home is in a gated property in Senibong Cove, a 10-minute ride from the Causeway.
He gets a lift from apprentice jockey R Iskandar on his motorcycle to the Kranji racecourse. The journey takes only 20 minutes without traffic jam.
Since he started riding as an apprentice in 1991, Woodworth has certainly come a long way.
He has amassed more than 1,000 winners, one of the rare few to have crossed the mark.
CHAMPION JOCKEY TWICE
He was crowned Malayan Racing Association champion jockey in 1995, while still an apprentice, and was the king of Mauritius in 2007.
He has also ridden in England, Australia, Macau, South Korea, Japan, Cyprus and Qatar.
Among his many feature successes was the 2018 Singapore Gold Cup on Elite Invincible. It was his most memorable.
Only in February, he was conferred the inaugural Racing Honorary Award, for his act of bravery in a barrier trial last July.
He rode up to a track rider who had lost his footing in the iron. He managed to slow the horse down by holding on to its reins, thus preventing a potentially serious accident.
That same night at the 2019 Racing Appreciation Awards, he was also given another new award, as Champion Local Jockey.
A local legend, truly.