Yusoff cops it on the Shinn
Logan hails her apprentice for giving way to senior jockey on King Arthur in Lion City Cup
As Donna Logan rejoiced with her apprentice jockey Yusoff Fadzli after King Arthur’s third consecutive win on July 17, she could not help feel a slight tug on her heart.
The New Zealand trainer was already buoyed by that conclusive first test at Class 1 level for the Fortuna NZ Racing Stable-owned sprinter. The resounding win had booked his much-needed ticket to the $300,000 Group 1 Lion City Cup (1,200m) on Sunday.
But, as much as Logan lauded Yusoff’s impeccable handling yet again, she was dreading the next few days when she would have to break the bad news to Kranji’s leading apprentice: That top Australian jockey Blake Shinn was replacing him on his pet horse in the big race.
When she finally plucked up the courage for that face-to-face, she was simply blown away by the Malaysian rider’s maturity.
“We spoke with Yusoff, and to our pleasant surprise, he was very supportive of Blake Shinn getting on King Arthur. He’s really looking forward to watching them in the Lion City Cup,” she said.
“He’s taken it on the chin, he’s not the sort to cry over spilt milk. He still rides the horse every morning, he knows what makes the horse tick.
“Blake only trialled the horse last week and also got on him for slow work on the odd morning, and was more than happy with him. If King Arthur wins this Sunday, you can be sure Yusoff will get all the kudos.
“I’m very grateful for the way he has handled the situation. Blake also said this kind of attitude will take him a long way in his career.”
Still, racing lore every now and then throws up a feel-good story of connections keeping the faith in less fashionable riders when a horse steps up to a bigger stage.
The most recent high-profile example of such loyalty is unknown Ohio horse Rich Strike winning the Kentucky Derby at 80-1 odds with his regular partner and equally unheard-of jockey, Sonny Leon.
Logan’s school of thought is probably less poetic, more realistic, and the unspoken common norm.
“Yusoff has done a wonderful job on this horse. He’s won three in a row with him and he knows him so well,” she said.
“Still, here we have a world-class jockey like Blake Shinn who is available, and an apprentice, no doubt talented, but who will be in a Group 1 race for the first time with all the pressure it comes with.
“We’re running a business here, and we have to do the right thing by the horse and the owners.”
Ironically, Logan has not always had blind faith in the I Am Invincible five-year-old.
Every time she raises the bar, it is more a case of under promising and over delivering.
“Every time we step him up, we start making excuses if he gets beat. But he comes out and delivers. It’s so rewarding to have a horse of this calibre,” she said.
“What has really impressed me is how he has kept stepping up and stepping up. Every task we’ve put in front of him, he has completed.
“It’s not an easy task for any runner. It’s so exciting when you have a horse who goes to the next level.
“No doubt the Lion City Cup will be his biggest test.
“Again, we’ll say ‘oh well, he hasn’t met such company, he always had a claimer, and he’ll be at weight-for-age’.
“But, you know what, he’s still very deserving of a spot in this race. At least, barrier four will give him a good position in the race.
“He ran 1,200m in 1min 8sec at his last win, even if he had no weight on his back. Any horse who can run these times deserves to have a shot.
“The key factor to him is he had an uninterrupted preparation. He’s a horse with no issues.”