G1-winning rider Alysha Collett joins jockey exodus from lockdown Singapore

Horse Racing Alysha Collett
Singapore-based Kiwi jockey Alysha Collett is set to travel to Sydney. Photo: Trish Dunell

By NZ Racing Desk

Singapore: Kiwi jockey Alysha Collett is the latest Singapore-based rider to take a hiatus from the jurisdiction, with racing currently on hold due to a Covid-19 outbreak. 

Collett will fly to Sydney on Sunday as she looks to derive some sort of income, but hasn’t given up on a return to Singapore once racing is back up and running.

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Initially one of the nations that contained the virus better than most, Singapore has seen cases soar beyond 12,000 in recent days, with the majority of cases being foreign workers living in confined dormitory accommodation.

“On Tuesday when we hit the two-week mark for the month lockdown, the Singapore government extended it for another month because the cases on average were about 1,000 a day, but we’ve only had about 20 cases of community transmission a day,” says Collett. 

“I think they’re containing it well enough, but the whole country is in lockdown for at least another six weeks.”

With not a lot of room for spelling horses in Singapore, light training continues at Kranji, however, the services of jockeys have not been required.

“Because of animal welfare issues, horses are still getting out of their boxes and going for walks, swimming and slow work,” says Collett.

“Every trainer is allowed a percentage of their workforce to keep the horses happy and doing something. I haven’t ridden a horse in three weeks since the last race meeting. Jockeys are in lockdown along with the rest of the country and are deemed non-essential workers.”

‘We are blessed that we are able to go to other countries and ride’

Racing in Singapore has been suspended until June 1, but with horses unable to undertake fast work or trial, that return to racing date could come under further pressure depending on the containment of the virus.    

Collett will follow in the footsteps of riders Michael Rodd, Patrick Moloney and Daniel Moor as she heads to Australia while Singapore racing is on hold. 

“We are blessed that we are able to go over to other countries and ride,” says Collett. “A couple of us were granted leave that has been approved by the Turf Club. We just leave until Singapore racing is back up and running again.

“I’m not too sure what the South African jockeys are doing. They find out in a few weeks if South Africa is racing again but the likelihood of them going is high as well, just to keep an income. 

Horse Racing Alysha Collett Kranji
Alysha Collett in action at Kranji. Photo: Singapore Turf Club

“Otherwise we are potentially three months stranded without work and we don’t get the government assistance, which I completely understand. They’ve got to look after their own people.”

Collett has been buoyed by the positivity of a number of the Singapore-based trainers, while the Singapore Turf Club has pushed back some of its feature races. 

“Every trainer that I have spoken with has actually been really positive,” she says. “People like Donna Logan and Riccardo le Grange have taken a positive approach and they are ready to go when they get the go-ahead. 

“The Turf Club made an announcement yesterday that the Lion City Cup (1200m) and Kranji Mile (1600m), will be run at a later date now, so that is encouraging for us.”

‘I was really looking forward to the big races coming up’

Collett was enjoying a good season in Singapore prior to racing ceasing earlier this month, sitting ninth on the premiership.

“I was getting good support and I was really looking forward to the big races coming up. I had some nice mounts in those races, but you can’t do much about that. Things were tracking along well.”

The 26-year-old is looking forward to returning to Sydney, a jurisdiction she has ridden in previously and where her jockey brother Jason plies his trade, alongside his partner, trainer Clare Cunningham. 

“I still have to do the two weeks in isolation when I arrive in Sydney and Racing NSW have requested that I do extra isolation plus have a couple of tests to say that I am negative to Covid-19. 

“I am definitely okay with that. The isolation will be boring but it is just nice to be in the process to potentially be back riding again.”

With Jason Collett restricted to solely riding in the metropolitan area, there could be an opportunity for his younger sister to ride horses for Cunningham that race in a region outside of the city. 

“I haven’t discussed yet with a manager as to where I would be going yet, I am just waiting for a license to come through and then I will go from there,” says Collett.

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