The long wait is over. Three-time Singapore Gold Cup-winning jockey Ronnie Stewart will be legged up for his return to Kranji racing on Saturday.
Licensed by the Singapore Turf Club on the final week of last November, his luggage and saddles were already packed – ready to fly from his home in
Brisbane with his wife, former Singapore jockey Sheryl Cheam, and young daughter, Dakota, once his employment pass was approved.
It might be almost three months lost, but it finally came a couple of weeks ago and the Stewarts flew in on March 5.
The 38-year-old collected his papers from the Ministry of Manpower yesterday and can start riding trackwork from today.
Popular when he was here from 2006 to 2011, he will be back in action on Saturday at the track where he rode 210 winners, including Takaoka’s Jolie’s Shinju in all three legs of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge.
“It was always in the plan to get back here,” said Stewart, who is staying with Cheam’s mother and stepfather in Sengkang.
“It’s been over two years now that we have been away from Sheryl’s family (because of Covid-19). The parents are seeing our daughter for the first time, too.
“It’s easier to get Dakota in since she is still young, and in time to come, we have to plan for her education here, too. We might sell our property back home and then invest in our own place over here.
“I am thankful for the licence given by the club. Hopefully, we can stay here long term.”
The Group 1 Sydney Cup-winning jockey, on the Chris Waller-trained Selino last year, is one of three new expatriates licensed by the Singapore Turf Club for the 2022 racing season.
Fellow Australian Jake Bayliss made his debut on Feb 19 and has ridden three winners, including Istataba last Saturday.
South African Derreck David, who has ridden at Kranji before, has yet to get clearance to ride.
Stewart has met trainers Steven Burridge, Tim Fitzsimmons and James Peters since arriving.
“I will ride some trackwork for Tim for a start. I will also spread myself around and help out with other trainers as well,” he said.
Stewart, who last rode in three races at Sunshine Coast on Feb 19, said Australian racing is strong and competitive. But, now that he is in Singapore, the most important thing is to acclimatise and get fit.
“I am more mature as a rider now. But it is still important to establish yourself among the riding ranks here, knuckle down and get winners,” he added. “I run every day to maintain my fitness, just like how I used to all the time. Maybe winning my fourth Singapore Gold Cup would be great.”
Stewart’s three Singapore Gold Cups came from the same horse, the Hideyuki Takaoka-trained El Dorado in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
He equalled the feat of compatriots Tommy Farthing (1936, 1939 and 1941) and Alan Trevena (1963, 1966 and 1968) with the most Gold Cup victories.