Jerlyn Seow tops the Singapore apprentice jockeys’ log, but Kranji’s only local female rider did not luck her way up.
In a tough man’s world, she not only had to break the stereotypes, but also prove that she could ride with the best.
In her rookie season last year, the Jurong-raised girl silenced the critics – the misogynistic kind included – with a more than laudable haul of 15 winners from 245 rides.
That is 15 times that the boys had to eat her dust.
No doubt, the polish left a little to be desired at first.
But how could you knock someone of the fairer sex, and whose only previous contact with animals was of the furry kind during her time as a dog-cafe barista?
But the air-rifle shooter and parkour enthusiast has kept her head down, bum up.
Through dint of hard work, she has improved by leaps and bounds, both in her style and strength, even if the whip handling still needs some refinement.
Master Mark Walker walking out on her this year could have broken her stride. But the even more sheltering care of Kranji’s only woman trainer Donna Logan has not only given her more wings, but also allowed her to spread them.
Seow, 28, has this season ridden five winners for four different trainers, albeit none yet for Logan.
The latest to back the 3kg claimer is newly minted trainer Stephen Crutchley. On Saturday, both the Kiwi and Seow won their first raceday highlight with Fame Star in the Class 1 race over 1,200m.
Crutchley has also heard a few unkind comments, but he backed his own judgment – and was repaid for his faith in the second-year apprentice with a “perfect” ride.
“Some people say she goes too fast on front runners, but I don’t think she does,” said Crutchley.
“I think she still has a good hold of them, and knows how to keep them balanced. I’m happy for her that she won on Fame Star.
“Jerlyn comes to our stable every morning to help us, and it’s only normal I give her rides. She actually works Fame Star every day, and has also race-ridden him a few times before today (Saturday).
“She came and rode him yesterday. They went quietly around the road (track No. 6).
“I just told her the horse had a good draw today and no weight on his back, and to get him going early. She rated him to perfection.”
Seow was chirpy when talking about her new milestone – a first win in a headline race. But, to her, being at the top of the heap is just a nice snapshot of her progress.
“I’m happy to be leading, but there is still a long way to go. Iskandar Rosman and Simon Kok are not far behind,” she said.
“I hope I can win the champion title, I’ll just keep working hard.
“I’d also like to thank Crutchley and Constance Cheng for the ride.
“I rode Fame Star four times before. He once ran fast sectionals when second to Lim’s Lightning.
“I was lucky we had barrier No. 2 and a light weight this time. I could feel Rocket Star coming from behind, but we hung on.”
Seow described the 2019 Group 2 EW Barker Trophy winner as a cool customer at home, but an eager beaver in his races – nothing she cannot handle, she asserts.
“In trackwork on track No. 4, he’s quite relaxed, but in his races, when he jumps out, he is quite keen like Ironchamp,” she said.
“I would then just hug the rails, hold him for as long as I can. He’s got that speed of pure sprinters, but I know how to control them.”
If Seow keeps on like now, she may well be the one who will prove hard to stop this year.