New Zealand jockey Craig Grylls has been well-grounded for his introduction to Singapore racing.
His father Gary rode at the old Bukit Timah course in the late 1980s and he has been one of the push factors toward this current move to a new hunting ground.
“I wasn’t born when my dad rode here, but he’s told me all about the place and has always encouraged me to strive to get more riding experience in a different racing jurisdiction, and Singapore was one of them,” Grylls told the Singapore Turf Club.
“I spent three seasons in Australia, in Queensland during the Brisbane winter carnival from 2008 to 2010. I also rode in Macau for three months and rode around eight to nine winners there.
“Singapore was on my radar after Grant Cooksley put the idea in my head a couple of years ago. I made an application last year and it was not successful, but I got accepted this time.
“I’ve also spoken to Michael Coleman about the place. He rode at the old track, but he did ride for one day at Kranji (Singapore Guineas day in 2012) and he also gave me a few pointers.”
A winner of over 700 races in 11 years of riding that began in Te Awamutu, Grylls rode trackwork at Kranji for the first time this week and will debut on raceday this weekend.
“It’s great to be here. I arrived last Thursday and was at the races last weekend,” said Grylls, whose Swedish wife Milou will join him next month.
“I was really impressed by the racing, the track, the atmosphere. I can’t wait to get on my first rides.
“It’s not a bad start. I’ve got one on Friday night, Always A Winner for Leslie Khoo, and three rides on Sunday - Ninetysevenemperor for Leslie again, Awatere for Mark Walker and Enhancement for James Peters.”
Grylls, who has a three-month contract, has ridden 46 Group and Listed winners, eight at Group One level. His highlights include successes in the Diamond Stakes, Manawatu Sires' Produce, New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes, NRM Sprint, Wellington Cup and the Thorndon Mile.
Before leaving, Grylls sat in eighth position with 64 winners on the New Zealand jockeys’ premiership, one winner clear of 2006 Singapore champion jockey Mark du Plessis.
“Singapore is where I want to focus my career on for now. I want to ride as many winners as possible, and hopefully, I can then extend my contract, we’ll see how it goes.”