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Humbled Hakim returns as New Zealand awaits, Latest Racing News



Bittersweet does not even begin to describe boom apprentice Hakim Kamaruddin’s state of mind when the verdict came down on Nov 20 – a three-month suspension.

The Kelantan whiz kid has been slapped with careless riding bans or warnings before, but he was not read the riot act that time. 

The blow could not have been dealt in more anticlimactic fashion either.

Already home in the Singapore apprentice jockey title race, given his unassailable lead, Hakim was odds-on to make it a rare double in the senior category as well.

He eventually did one week later, after Danny Beasley, the only senior who still had a chance of thwarting him, drew a blank at the final 2021 meeting.

Still, what was meant to be a joyous and momentous occasion to celebrate an exploit not achieved since Benny Woodworth in 1995 was eclipsed by a “silly” spur-of-the-moment act a couple of weeks earlier. The stewards took exception to him hitting Motakhayyel on the head in a race on Nov 14.

Hakim had the Kranji world at his feet, but instead, his world had all come crashing down.

“My target was champion apprentice, but I also won the senior title, I was so happy,” recalled Hakim, who has three rides in his Kranji comeback today – Healthy Baby (Race 2), Eagle Eye (Race 3) and Fighting Hero (Race 6).

“Back home, a lot of people in my village congratulated me. It’s nice to be a mini-celebrity.

“But I had so many regrets when I got suspended. I was frustrated with the horse as he was hanging out badly, and I hit his head.

“I really regret doing what I did, but it’s due to a lack of experience.

“I made a silly mistake, paid a big price, and now I want to move on.

“The biggest price to pay was losing out on three months. I’m still an apprentice and I could have learned more during that time.”

Nobody is above the law, but the local racing community were also aghast by Hakim’s fall from grace. 

How could such a bright talent have climbed to the pinnacle of racing and come down so low? Worse, a few days later, he was announced as the only apprentice jockey to be handed a six-month licence for 2022. All the others got one year.

Hakim felt both numb and dejected. But, whether it was his introvertness, he did not show it. If anything, the young boy took it like a man. But, luckily, he was also not left hung out to dry.

“Honestly, I was disappointed by the six-month licence, but I tried to stay positive about it,” he said. 

“Some people said how can a champion get only six months, but I look at it differently. I don’t boast about my title, I made a mistake and I accept the club’s decision.

“The stewards praised my riding, but they also said my other suspensions didn’t help my cause.

“They didn’t promise my licence would then get renewed, but they told me to see it as a challenge to improve myself and get better.

“I’m lucky to have Donna Logan to guide me. Her senior riders (former jockeys) Syed (Zainal) and (Erasmus) Aslam also help, they’re patient with difficult horses.”

The highest debt of gratitude still goes to his original master, Mark Walker. The champion trainer had already decided that the bracing air of New Zealand would do the rider a lot of good. But his decision to leave Kranji meant he would keep moulding Hakim’s future.

“After my suspension, Mr Walker told me I should go to New Zealand, so I went to Kelantan on Dec 2 to be with my family first,” said Hakim, who is not from a racing family, even if Kelantan is known as a nursery for jockeys.

“I also want to go there so I can improve. When Mr Walker texted me in January to say he was leaving, I was happy as it meant he would still be my boss there. 

“He also asked me to go back to Singapore as I have a licence till June. The idea is to stay fit until the New Zealand visa comes through.”
Hakim sounded upbeat he would be packing his bags again soon.

“Mr Walker is confident I should get it once he submits all the forms. Hopefully, I can start riding there in June,” said Hakim, who has travelled only to Singapore thus far.

“My English has improved since I came here, but it should improve even more in New Zealand.





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