Yusoff all set for 2023 takeoff
Setbacks hold up 2022 Singapore champion apprentice jockey’s start to new season
Yusoff Fadzli is keeping his fingers crossed he can finally slip into his racing breeches on Monday.
The 2022 Singapore champion apprentice jockey, who will compete from 2023 as a 2kg-claiming senior rider, frustratingly missed the first two meetings on Jan 7 and 14.
The 33-year-old Malaysian has two different reasons for the absence. But fortunately, he has sorted both out, even if one of them may recur.
“I didn’t ride on the first day because my employment pass was not cleared yet,” he said.
“I got it last week and was all set for Saturday (two rides), but then I had to pull out because of my left knee. Since my fall from Pindus (on Oct 8), I still feel pain on and off.
“This time, it was after trackwork, a few days before the races. I woke up the next day and it hurt.
“I did not ride trackwork for three days and went for some massage. I now feel better, I rode this morning and felt no pain, hopefully it stays that way till Monday.”
Yusoff’s name figures on Monday’s special Chinese New Year racecard, but he can avoid the early morning rush to the track. His two rides, King Arthur and Winning Stride, both for his former trainer Donna Logan, are in the last two events of the 12-race programme.
“As I am coming back from a long break, I decided myself to take only two rides,” said Yusoff, explaining why he is easing back into the saddle.
“I weighed around 56-57kg when I came back from Johor Bahru. I did my usual workouts and it’s now down to 52-53kg.
“This week I got one ride on King Arthur, and ma’am gave me one extra ride on Winning Stride.
“I’ve never ridden Winning Stride before, not even in trackwork. I think she just wanted to give me that ride to get my fitness back.
“He’s drawn one. I think he’s got a good chance, probably even better than King Arthur.”
King Arthur was one of Logan’s brightest sparks in 2022. The Fortuna NZ Racing Stable-owned I Am Invincible five-year-old won seven races, including a four-in-a-row with Yusoff up, to bring his total tally to nine wins.
He even nearly turned giant-killer at his first feature race when a bold second to Lim’s Kosciuszko in the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1,200m) in August.
But the Daniel Meagher-trained star beat him comprehensively at his last start in a Class 1 contest over 1,200m on Nov 19.
“I’ve won four times on King Arthur last year and he’s my favourite horse. But I think he wasn’t fit enough at his last start,” said Yusoff who was in the irons.
“I’ve been riding him in trackwork and he felt good, but he has a bad draw (11) this week. I hope he can just get cover and relax.”
The $100,000 Kranji Stakes A race over 1,200m comprises the usual suspects such as Grand Koonta, Kharisma and Fame Star, but the 2022 top three-year-old Golden Monkey (now four) and up-and-coming stayer Cyclone are also in the mix.
Yusoff cannot wait to get back in the thick of the action as he embarks on a new chapter of his riding career.
He will now have to fend for himself among the big boys, even if Logan has not completely cut the apron strings.
“I still have a two-month contract with ma’am, and I do most of my trackwork for her,” said Yusoff.
“But now that I am a senior rider, I want to ride trackwork for other trainers to give myself a better chance.
“As I’m taking it easy now, I ride for ma’am now but from next week onwards, I will go looking for trackwork rides from other stables.”