There were plenty of tears shed on course and in his country of birth when apprentice Ashvin Goindasamy guided veteran galloper Tiptronic to victory in the Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) here at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.
The 23-year-old native Mauritian had followed his dreams to New Zealand as a teenager six years ago, intent on becoming a successful jockey and winning Group races.
Attached to the Cambridge stable of Ralph Manning, Goindasamy has overcome a severe bout of home sickness, a halting command of the English language when he first arrived and a horror fall at Te Rapa just over two years ago, to place himself in a position to achieve those dreams.
On Sunday that scenario became a reality as an astute front-running ride aboard the Graham Richardson and Rogan Norvall-trained Tiptronic provided him with his first Group race success and one at the highest level.
As the result sunk in for Goindasamy as he returned to the birdcage, so did the tears as he thought about his family back at home in Mauritius.
“When I went across the line, I was a little numb, but just so happy,” he said.
“Actually, throughout the race I just had this feeling we were going to win and at the 600m when I clicked him up, I couldn’t hear any of the other horses coming after me.
“I snuck a peek at the big screen at the 200m and I could see I was two lengths clear and the horse was just travelling, so I knew then I had it won as long as nothing silly happened.
“It hit me coming back to the birdcage and apart from the sense of relief, I was thinking about Mum and Dad and I just couldn’t stop crying.
“When I rang them after the races, they were ecstatic. Dad had watched the race live and was yelling all the way down the straight while Mum was crying as they know how much it means to me.”
Goindasamy had followed in his father’s footsteps as a trackwork rider in his homeland but knew he would have to make a move overseas if he wanted to establish himself as a fully-fledged jockey.
“When I was 17, I wasn’t making any progress and a few friends said to me I had to go abroad to get a go, so I started looking around and did some research on New Zealand,” he said.
“I got in touch with Ralph (Manning), and he told me if I could get a visa and all the right papers, he would take me on.
“When I got here, I was really unhappy for the first couple of months as it was just so different.
“I was homesick, couldn’t speak English well enough to be understood or even understand others when they spoke to me and didn’t have any friends, so it was very lonely.
“My Dad told me he would buy me a ticket home if I wanted to come back, but I had gone to so much effort to get here I said I would stay and try and make it work.”
Talent in the saddle and a strong work ethic has seen Goindasamy establish himself in the top tier of apprentices in New Zealand and he is determined to make this season the best of his apprenticeship.
“I can only claim 1kg now and that has made it a little harder to get rides, but I set my goals for the year back in August and at the top of the list was to win a stakes race,” he said.
“I didn’t think that would be a Group One as even getting a ride is tough for those races, so I’m so happy that I could repay the faith that Graham and Rogan placed in me to ride Tiptronic.
“I have to reset my Group race goals now and all I want to do is win another Group One and then another and another."
“I come out of my time at the end of this season and hopefully I can establish myself in the senior ranks.
“It has been a slow start with not many winners so far this year, but now I have that big win under my belt I’m hoping I will be looked at for more rides over the next few months.”
In the meantime, Goindasamy will be using any spare time he has over the next few days answering the multitude of goodwill messages he received after a truly special day on Sunday.
– NZ Racing Desk