Duric all set to race again

3-time champ keeps fit for S'pore racing restart

If there is a race today, I can ride, says three-time Singapore champion jockey Vlad Duric.

That shows the Australian is keeping his fitness intact, although he has put on some weight from the racing lockdown in early April due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the first two months of confinement, he - like all the foreign jockeys - was not authorised to ride trackwork.

Unsurprisingly, his weight ballooned to 65kg.

But, being a Singapore permanent resident, he was given a special dispensation around the Phase 1 re-opening after the circuit breaker period.

He is glad he got a headstart, working for trainer Stephen Gray. The next three weeks before racing resumes on July 11 can only help smoothen out the rough edges further.

Duric said he started off slowly with only a couple of rides with Gray, one of his staunchest supporters, as he could only ride for one trainer as per the Ministry of Trade and Industry's guidelines.

"As my fitness improved, I gradually picked up on the number of rides, and now I ride around nine horses every morning. If racing started today, I would be ready to go, even if I haven't quite reached my riding weight yet."

Duric, who won the last race held before the shutdown, aboard debutant Sweet Angeline on April 3, felt the financial strain without income.

"Financially, it's been hard, not earning any income for three months - and keeping fit in the first couple of months was also challenging," he said.

"It was a bit of a balancing act for me, as you don't want to lose too much weight and lower your immunity with the virus around us. It was hard, but I'm glad it's all worked out in the end."

Duric hopes to revert to freelancing soon to be able to work for other trainers as well. But, at the same time, he deplored the sudden drop in numbers in the riding ranks at Kranji.

During the suspension of racing, jockeys Michael Rodd, Daniel Moor, Alysha Collett and Patrick Moloney returned to Australia to ride.

"I'd be lying if I said I was not tempted to also go back home to ride, especially when we had no idea what the future held for us here," he said.

"But my two eldest daughters are finishing school here this year, and I thought it'd be better I bite the bullet and stick around.

"In hindsight, it was the best decision I've made. We cop a financial hit for sure, but as JP (John Powell) and I are the more established riders here, we can take it whereas it's not so obvious for those who just got here.

"Of course, it's fortunate we will be racing again, otherwise I'm not sure how long I could have sustained. A big thank you to the Singapore Turf Club for working hard with the ministries to bring racing back."