Grylls grateful for Singapore opportunity but home is where the heart is

Kiwi jockey Craig Grylls has fully enjoyed his last one and a half years at Kranji, but has still decided not to prolong his Singapore adventure.

Grylls is not among the list of jockeys licensed for the 2019 season simply because he did not put in an application for a licence renewal. The 28-year-old jockey is returning to New Zealand to continue his riding career.

While he may not have established himself among the top echelon in the Kranji riding ranks, Grylls, who previously rode overseas in Australia and Macau, said he was more than happy with his performance – 41 winners in 564 rides, even if he felt it could have been better.

“It has been a good last 18 months or so, without being at the top. It all went very quickly actually,” said Grylls.

“I’m very grateful to the Singapore Turf Club for the opportunity. It has been a very good learning curve and it has certainly improved my riding.

“I’ve received good support from most trainers in general, especially Lee Freedman. I gave him his first Singapore winner, Mr Clint, last year and this year, he gave me just under half of my winners (14 from 32).

“Other trainers like Bruce Marsh, Donna Logan, Mark Walker, CT (Cheng Tee) Kuah have also supported me, and I can’t thank them enough.

“Curvature (for Freedman) has been the best horse I’ve ridden, I’ve won four races with him. I’m also grateful to Cliff Brown for giving me the opportunity on Zac Kasa in the Lion City Cup, we came close with a second to Lim’s Cruiser.”

Despite the good run, the call from home was in the end too strong to resist.

“I’ve decided it was a good time to go home. My wife Milou and I missed home and the lifestyle, at times there isn’t a lot to do here,” said Grylls.

“I’ll first head to Sweden a couple of days after the last meeting here (December 9). I’ll spend Christmas there with Milou’s family and it’s also a good opportunity to go there as Singapore is halfway between Sweden and New Zealand.

“I will then head back to New Zealand in mid-January and I will ride freelance again. I was sitting in eighth spot before I left home and hopefully I can pick up where I left off.

“I have a pretty good spread of trainers who will support me, like Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott. They have a pretty big team and should be able to give me a good go.”

With five meetings left at Kranji, Grylls is well intent on padding up his score before bowing out, even if he is aware the support has dropped a little, especially as he won’t be coming back next year. He does, however, have a standout chance on Friday.

“It’s quietened down lately, but I’ve got a good ride in Jomo this Friday,” said Grylls who rides the unbeaten Freedman-trained All Too Hard four-year-old in the S$80,000 Class 3 Division 1 race over 1100m.

“He’s drawn 14, but he’s a big horse who’s shown plenty of natural speed before, like at his first start with Daniel Moor when he drew the outside as well.

“Hopefully, he can overcome that, and I can win on him for one last time as I don’t think he’ll have the time for another run this year.

“I’ve got another ride from Lee, King Zoustar. He’s not a champion, but he’s quite promising, so hopefully he can run well, too.”

The one-time winner by Zoustar has, on the other hand, drawn an alley in the S$60,000 Class 4 Premier race over 1200m, which looks to be quite an open race. -STC


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