Kok’s EP approved after 21/2 months, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Kok’s EP approved after 21/2 months

Simon Kok is finally a freelance jockey. The Malaysian can look forward to better days, now that his employment pass (EP) under his new status as a Singapore-based senior jockey has been approved.

“I’m so relieved. It’s taken two and a half months to finally get it,” said Kok, who recently married his French girlfriend Lola.

When the former two-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey applied for the document at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on June 2, he was told the processing time was around eight weeks, and in the interim, he could only ride for his sponsor and former master Steven Burridge.

That was a double whammy which exacerbated an already sluggish season. Not only he had to watch outside rides fly by him, but Burridge has also lost a lot of firepower from a downsized stable.

“My stable is struggling, it means I’m also struggling,” said Kok. “I needed more outside rides, but it was so frustrating I could not take them.”

To the point Kok had to pass up plum rides like Tiger Roar in the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1,800m) on July 17.

The Ipoh-born rider had accepted the ride on the off chance his EP was ready. But there was no such luck, and he had to inform trainer Michael Clements to book someone else.

The fact that Tiger Roar did not win the Derby with Bernardo Pinheiro up was irrelevant to Kok.

He just felt hamstrung by the limited opportunities, even if he scrambled up one win (in 16 rides) as a one-kilo claiming senior jockey on Wealth Elite for his old boss on Derby day.

But the watershed moment has arrived for Kok this Sunday. From his book of four rides, two are for Clements, Harry Dream and Global Kid, and one for Richard Lim, Chosen One.

Ironically, Kok considers his only ride for Burridge, Street Cry Success in the $70,000 Class 3 on the Polytrack mile, as his best chance of the day. The combination flew home for second to Paletas in a Class 3 race over 1,000m a fortnight ago.

“The 1,000m was too sharp for him. He will handle the mile better,” said Kok.

“I finished third on him in a mile race two starts back, but it was on turf. This time it’s Polytrack.

“He hasn’t won on Polytrack yet, but he ran on very well in that 1,000m race. It should be okay.

“But it’ll be his first time around two bends. From the draw (eight), I’ll have to ride him for luck.

“Mr Clements has been checking regularly about my EP, and when I told him I got it two weeks ago, he put me on a couple.

“I’ve ridden both horses before. I finished third on Global Kid once, the 2,000m (of the $50,000 Class 4 race) is his distance.

“He’s a bit one-paced. He’s in a smart field, but he should run well.”