Racing

Shafiq triumphs in NZ

But Darren Danis beats only one home in riding comeback from serious injury

Singapore's former two-time top apprentice and Longines Singapore Gold Cup-winning rider R Shafiq has bounced back a winner at where he honed his craft,New Zealand.

But, for back-from-injury apprentice jockey Darren Danis, the Kranji lad did not have the fairytale riding comeback he had hoped for when his mount Miss Sequoia beat one home in the last race at Matamata on Wednesday.

Danis was at his first race-ride since fracturing his T4 and T5 vertebrae in a horror race fall on July 30, 2017.

The 25-year-old Singaporean apprentice jockey and son of jockey-turned-trainer Luke Danis is already looking forward to his next ride - High Distinction at Trentham today.

"Hopefully, my next ride will run faster than yesterday's. But it was still a good feeling to be back in action after such a long time on the sidelines," said the winner of 10 races in New Zealand since moving there in 2014.

Shafiq, whose licence was not renewed by the Singapore Turf Club, rode in Malaysia for a while before relocating to New Zealand this month.

Shafiq, known as his former riding name Rusof in New Zealand), sported familiar colours when he won aboard the Stephen Autridge & Jamie Richards-trained Pacific Coast in a Maiden 3YO race over 1,200m on Wednesday.

Shafiq had three seconds (all Te Akau) on the board before Wednesday's comeback win.

"It's nice to be back and riding some winners. I want to thank my biggest supporter, David Ellis, all of Te Akau, Steve and Jamie, the stable hands, and all the connections," said Shafiq, on the Te Akau Racing website.

"I had to go forward and it was only his second start, so it was good to follow the leader and he was strong to the line."

Richards was also delighted to have an old Te Akau graduate back to the fold.

"It's good to have him (Shafiq) back from Singapore. He was twice champion apprentice up there and rode a Singapore Gold Cup winner (Cooptado in 2015)," said Richards.

"He's here to work, riding work each morning, and he's very good with the stick in both hands. He's an asset."

The 31-year-old jockey rode in Malaysia for a while shortly after his licence was not renewed by the Singapore Turf Club at the end of last year, along with Manoel Nunes, Derreck David, Oscar Chavez, John Sundradas and Syafiq Hazman. The Kelantan-born jockey rode three winners in 26 rides across the Causeway.

He has now come full circle to the country where he honed his craft as an apprentice jockey under Mark Walker's tutelage, booting home three winners in 36 rides between 2009 and 2010, before following his master's move to Singapore in 2010.

HORSE RACING