Apprentice jockey Nik Bakar has made a whirlwind start to his career.
The 25-year-old from Malaysia has ridden seven winners from his first 15 rides and is making every post a winner for his employer Te Akau Racing.
Bakar began his association with horses at a young age. He learnt to ride a pony as a five-year-old and moved on to riding equestrian horses when he was 15. After six years in that field he was lured into the thoroughbred world, where he spent two years with the Singapore Turf Club before moving to New Zealand.
The apprentice said he is enoying his time in New Zealand and owes much of his success to compatriot and fellow Te Akau rider Shafiq Rusof, who is also riding the crest of a wave, notching a Group One double aboard Melody Belle this season.
“I have known and ridden horses with Shafiq for fifteen years, we’re from the same hometown, and he recommended me to David Ellis and Te Akau,” Bakar said.
“I’m very happy working at Te Akau and there is no stress for me, it’s very nice.”
Bakar said he has enjoyed travelling to the South Island where he has enjoyed most of his success to date, including consecutive wins aboard stakes-placed filly Swing Note and a Saturday double aboard Miss Scandinavia and Remington at Riccarton.
The young rider has fitted in well to his new environment and said he is learning a lot under the guidance of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing’s northern riding master Noel Harris.
“The apprentice school is good and I’ve enjoyed working with Noel Harris,” Bakar said. “He teaches me everything and I always try and get my paperwork done every week.
“I’m trying to improve my riding and speaking and every Wednesday I have an English class.
“In races, I try to follow the instructions that Jamie (Richards, trainer) has given me and Shafiq teaches me that riding horses you must think very fast. I try to learn from everyone and you need a bit of luck.
“Good horses make a good jockey and Jamie has put me on some good horses. I’ve enjoyed the new experience of travelling to the South Island. I like the track at Ashburton in particular, and it has been good to me.”
Riding mentor Harris has been impressed with Bakar’s ability and work ethic and believes the Malaysian rider has a bright future.
“He wants to learn, puts his hand up, participates and wants to be a part of the whole system,” Harris said.
“I’ve always liked Nik and I’m very proud of him.
“The horses run for him and even though he’s had success now, he’ll be far better next autumn after riding through the summer.” – NZ Racing Desk