Saimee gets the monkey off his back
Former multiple-champion jockey heaves big sigh of relief with first winner
As a former riding legend with multiple championship titles and big-race winners to his name, Saimee Jumaat certainly carried the grandstand when he started his training career in July.
With his reputation, the pressure to prove himself was simply huge, indeed.
So, when $58 outsider SHOQEET kicked home to take Race 4 at Kranji yesterday, the amiable Singaporean I call Champ was beaming, baring his nice set of white pearlies.
"Actually, it's a big relief for me, you know, to get my first winner as a trainer because the expectations on me have been great, especially on my record as a jockey," he said.
"Yeah, like I've said, a big relief and thank you to all the owners for their solid support, bringing in all their nice and good horses to me. Just a relief."
The Al-Arabiya Stable-owned Shoqeet was Saimee's 23rd runner since he made his training debut on July 7 with Raheeb, the Al-Arabiya-owned newcomer who beat only two home in the Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe won by Be Bee.
Actually, it's a big relief for me, you know, to get my first winner as a trainer because the expectations on me have been great, especially on my record as a jockey.Jockey-turned-trainer Saimee Jumaat
Two races before Shoqeet's victory, his charge Evil Speedo finished third to Mokastar in the Restricted Maiden event over the Polytrack 1,00m.
Saimee went into yesterday's meeting with three seconds, three thirds and two fourths from 21 previous entries.
Shoqeet ran a nice fourth in his debut on July 14 and that run certainly transformed him into a winner yesterday.
Ridden by Panamanian-born jockey Oscar Chavez, who rode against Saimee for many years, the four-year-old chestnut New Zealand-bred gelding gave his backers some anxious moments as he started with only one horse behind him in the Open Maiden-2 event over the Polytrack 1,200m.
Thoth Warrior led a tight bunch and was half a length in front of Majulah at the halfway mark.
The Golden Goat was two lengths away, with a similar gap to Volks Treasure, $18 favourite Bring Me Joy and newcomer Able Pins, who was hammered to $19 second favourite in the final bell.
Chavez nursed Shoqeet up a few rungs but wide.
Majulah collared the tiring Thoth Warrior shortly after straightening but was faced with challenges from The Golden Goat and Able Pins, who rushed up menacingly.
The Golden Goat put his head in front of Majulah at the 200m mark, while Able Pins surprisingly switched off his engine suddenly when it looked like he was going to be the winner on the way he darted up.
While all that drama was unfolding, Chavez brought Shoqeet home with a blistering run on the outside and soon careered away to beat The Golden Goat by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
Saimee heaped thanks to the owner of Al-Arabiya for his big support and having faith in him.
"He's probably the biggest owner in my yard now," he said.
"I like to thank him so much for bringing in the horses and for having the trust in me. It's good to have my first winner for him."
Saimee also paid tribute to his old nemesis, Chavez, for his cool and confident ride on Shoqeet.
"He's lucky now that I'm not there anymore," joked Saimee.
"We had big rivalry when I was riding with him and he's been a real good jockey for so long and he continues to ride so well, so just happy for him as well."
Chavez repaid the compliment.
"Riding a winner for one of the best jockeys in Singapore is the best thing I've done today. He created history and I am happy to be part of that history," said the one-time Malayan Racing Association champion jockey.
On Shoqeet, he said: "Well, you know, he ran a really good race last time. Saimee put the blinkers-pacifiers today and he jumped but got slaughtered at the start.
"I didn't really bother to chase him so much. I took my time with him, let him go around the corner a little bit.
"At the 600m, he picked up on the outside beautifully. Top of the straight, he just went out to the line.
"He's an improving horse. He can go from 1,200m to 1,400m and 1,600m. No problem, you know."