Racing

Thompson to say adieu next month

Popular lightweight Australian jockey is not taking up his one-year extension for next season

Popular lightweight jockey Ben Thompson has decided to return to Australia after the current Singapore racing season ends on Dec 8, citing personal reasons.

He has informed the Singapore Turf Club that he would not be taking up the extension of licence granted to him for the 2020 season.

He will see out the remaining five Kranji meetings. The last meeting features the Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes over 1,600m.

Thompson will be flying back the day after Colonial Chief Stakes meeting to continue his riding career in Australia.

The likeable jockey described his decision as one of the toughest he has had to make.

"I've made the very tough decision to return home next year. I'm really thankful to the Singapore Turf Club for the opportunity to ride here this year and for renewing me next year. But, unfortunately, I had to leave for personal reasons," he said.

"It's been an amazing experience riding here. I came 12 months ago not really knowing what to expect, but I was lucky enough to get good support from a couple of trainers.

"I loved my time here. It was a really good decision to come over."

Thompson, 22, said there was no set plan in his home base of Victoria, other than working hard and re-establishing himself in the riding ranks there.

"I'll just head home and try to achieve the same success in Australia. I'll return to Melbourne where I have my usual supporters like Ciaron Maher, Troy Corstens and Robbie Griffiths," he said.

"More importantly, I hope to take away what I've learnt here. Singapore has assisted in myself maturing and developing as a person, and definitely made me a better rider.

"I've learned a lot from the different jockeys and the different horses here. It's also given me a chance to learn how to ride on Polytrack, which is so different from turf."

The son of greyhound champion trainer Jason Thompson will be remembered for landing his first Group win when he won the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy over 1,400m aboard the Cliff Brown-trained Mister Yeoh at a two-day visit last November.

The young Victorian came back for a full season this year and has done relatively well to sit in seventh place on the Singapore jockey's premiership on 27 winners from 406 rides.

He included two more feature wins to his resume with the Group 2 Stewards' Cup over 1,600m on What's New and the Group 3 Moonbeam Vase over 1,600m with Elite Excalibur.

Both were also trained by Brown.

"I can't split between the Barker and the Stewards' Cup for the highlight of my stay. They're both memorable for different reasons," said Thompson, whose tally is now close to 320 winners.

"Obviously, my first Group win on Mister Yeoh at my first visit here was a huge thrill. It was surreal, and my dad was here.

"But, for What's New in the Stewards' Cup, it was great to win a major feature race for Cliff, who has been one of my main supporters here.

"It's goodbye for now, but I'd be hoping to come back for feature meetings in the future and would also consider another long-term stay."

HORSE RACING