Behind a constant smile as big as the distance between Singapore and Malaysia, Amirul Ismadi knows all the ups and downs of racing.
But the Ipoh-born Kranji-based jockey feels he’s finally riding the crest of the wave.
Not as high as a tsunami, but high enough to get him out of the depths he’d been plumbing in lately.
At two conferences in 2023, the 28-year-old has already visited the winners’ circle twice.
That’s double the paltry record of one winner (Metal World) with 78 ride wins in 2022.
Such an unsightly mark did not reflect the promise shown from an apprenticeship and short senior career with over 90 winners on both sides of the Causeway.
It didn’t even match his blue blood lineage.
Amirul is the son of former top local rider-turned-trainer Ismadi Ismail and nephew of multi-champion Malaysian jockey Azhar Ismail.
After some serious self-reflection, Amirul decided it was time to pull up his socks.
Without blinking, he pointed his finger at himself and the rut he had fallen into for his substandard work ethic.
“I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t do much track work last year,” he said.
“Last time we were riding three or four cars every morning. I would say that number has doubled now.
“I changed to a positive mindset when facing the ups and downs of racing. I just sat back and hoped things would improve on their own.
“Now that I am out there, the trainers know I am available.
“Recently, I have had a lot of support from KY (Keah Yong) Young, Leslie Khoo, Tim Fitzsimmons, David Kok and CT (Cheng Tee) Kuah.
“It’s two-way traffic. I help their horses and they help me with more support.”
The result was a larger book of ready-to-use vehicles in the new campaign.
On the first day of the season opener on January 7th, Amirul competed in seven rides.
Granted, the quality wasn’t good enough because no one was in place, but that’s where an ounce of luck also plays a role.
“I was already happy with my seven rides.When Simon Koch was stranded with an injury, I didn’t mind doing one more. I looked back on the pinch hitter turn in the accidental opening match.
“I thought Ocean Crossing was just a backmarker, so the distance was a little short for him.
“But in the race the horse felt good underfoot. I raced him patiently and he won.
“Effort pays off, but a little luck goes a long way. That victory was like a turning point for me.”
The race is littered with short-lived victories, but Ocean Crossing was anything but a moment for Amirul. A week later, he had doubled his Bionics.
For observers, the final gasp victory once again showcased his undeniable skill. But it meant more to Amirul.
“You can’t imagine how happy I was to beat (Manoel) Nunes (Manoel) Nunes that day,” he said.
In addition to being lucky, and kicking out after beating a four-time champion, Amirul also admitted he was making hay while the sun was shining.
“We also took advantage of the lack of jockeys. I did,” he said.
“When I put myself out there, I got to ride a ride that I wouldn’t normally be able to ride, and more importantly, I really enjoy riding.”
Amirul’s comeback could continue this Saturday. He doesn’t stand out, but he can make a couple claims from an even spread of eight rides.
“I’ve ridden eight times this week. I think the Strong N Smart is my best chance. I’ve ridden him three times and he was doing well on the last start.” He said.
“I think Wild Bee is the next best chance. He won the last start and drew well like Strong N Smart.”
https://www.tnp.sg/sports/racing/more-positive-amirul-ball ‘More positive’ Amirul on the ball, latest racing news