‘You Haven’t Won, Son’: Apprentice Celebrates Too Soon In New Zealand Race

by | 01.11.2017 | 4:00pm
Locally Sauced and jockey Rafi Firdhaus widen their lead approaching the finish line – one lap before the race ended

Rafi Firdhaus, a 30-year-old apprentice jockey from Singapore, reportedly received a five-week suspension for “incompetent riding” after misjudging the finish of a 2,180-meter race at Hokitika in western New Zealand. Firdhaus drove his mount Locally Sauced to what he thought was a victory in Wednesday's fourth race, forgetting that he still had another lap to go around the tight course.

“I hope this rider in front knows there is another lap to go,” the track's commentator said as Locally Sauced opened up a wide lead. “I think he's misjudged this, this rider, as they get past the winning post with a lap to go. He has.  He's miscounted the rounds, Rafi Firdhaus. And Locally Sauced, you haven't won, son.”

As Firdhaus celebrated the victory while pulling up his mount, most of the field passed him to the inside. Firdhaus saw the error of his ways and put Locally Sauced back in the race, eventually winding up fourth.

As a footnote, the winner of the race, Point Proven, was the horse jockey Rebecca Back was aboard when she died in a racing accident at Tapanui Racing Club a month earlier. It was the 6-year-old gelding's first start since that tragedy.

Friends and family of Black experienced a wide range of emotions as jockey Gosen Jogoo rode Point Proven to victory for trainer Greg Wright.

“This is awesome. It did feel we had an extra jockey out there,” Wright was quoted as saying after the race. “This one is for Bex.”


  • wmk3400

    I remember this happened at Aqueduct back in the 70s. The apprentice, who’s name I cannot remember rode him out with a lap to go and then stood up celebrating his “victory.” When the rest of the field whizzed by he got back down and rode his horse out though I’m not sure where he finished. It made the news on television the next day as he tearfully apologized and tried to explain what happened. Part of me felt sorry for him, part of me didn’t. Needless to say he never made it.

    • Mr J

      I saw it happen at Rock about 25 yrs ago, I forget the jock, but it was funny

    • Dave Brooks

      This used to happen on closing day at Marshfield (now-demised fair in MA). Last race on the last card was the Marshfield Marathon, which, if I remember correctly, was 1 5/8ths on a track that was a half or 5/8ths. Some knucklehead would be whipping and driving in the penultimate time around the bullring, obviously miscalculating how many times he had to go around. He’d then have to walk back to the jocks’ room with the trainer berating him. Ah, good times ….

      • wmk3400

        Dave, I went to Marshfield Fair a couple of times. I remember the announcer was the old man who owned the fairgrounds would call the races and was absolutely the worst caller I’ve ever heard by a mile. He stammered, stuttered and was blind. Also being the absolute degenerate gambler that I am I would start at Suffolk at 10am, get to Marshfield by 2pm and on my way home (NYC) I’d stop in at Raynham/Taunton Greyhounds. If I found the time I ate as well. Three live programs in one day……like you said “good times.”

        • Dave Brooks

          Yeah, Tom Durkin or Trevor Denman he wasn’t. What a great, bizarre, Byzantine place that was. David Abrahamian falling off three or four horses a day and then falling off the roof of the jocks’ room, where the riders took some sun. Daily double prices available only after the second race was run — no probable payouts shared with the public. Great food trucks on the clubhouse turn. I drove by last year, and it looks like a set from a post-apocalyptic Twilight Zone episode. I didn’t go quite to the lengths you did, but I’d do final Saturday at Marshfield, and then head west on the Mass Pike to go to closing Sun/Mon at Saratoga. From the sublime to the ridiculous.

          • wmk3400

            Sadly the way you describe Marshfield now is the same for Great Barrington Fair, in total disarray. I have to give you credit for mentioning Marshfield Fair and Saratoga in the same sentence. After I post this I’m going to wash my eyes out.

          • Dave Brooks

            Wow, I had a senior moment and conflated Marshfield w Gr Barrington as to which one was in total disarray. I meant Great Barrington. Marshfield still has an annual fair (no racing, of course), but Barrington is the one that a slight breeze would knock down. All else in my posts stands as written. Sorry.

          • wmk3400

            No problem Dave. I thought Marshfield was still open with a midway and cotton candy. As far as senior moments go…I rather enjoy mine. There’s nothing like mindless bliss. Have a nice and lucky weekend.

  • Gotchagold

    Wow, what an interesting story. In the beginning it makes you smile and at the end, it makes you misty eyed. RIP Rebecca Black

    • Lehane

      Rebecca was a respected jockey who sometimes rode for her ex husband, a trainer. It was reported that her horse knuckled on a certain part of the track, fell down and a horse behind her was brought down (that horse died). Jockey OK. I looked into this terrible tragedy and found that that racetrack, Gore NZ, holds a race meeting only once a year. Point Proven is a very good horse and he knuckled…?
      The green grass surface may have looked good but what was it like underneath the grass. Only raced on once a year (always in December) tells me that a thorough inspection of the track surface may not have been carried out. And Rebecca, the mother of 3 children, dies.
      It’s more than tragic!

      • Gotchagold

        Terrible thing to happen. Sad for her children. Thanks for the info Lehane

  • McGov

    Many times jockey’s have mistaken the finish line in races….for a variety of reasons. In this case, the fact that the last rider of the winner perished in an accident aboard this very mount last time out…..makes you stop and consider things a bit. Whatever this world and this existence we all try to negotiate and understand….the so called truth….the more you learn, the more questions you have IMO. May Rebecca Black rest in peace…..wherever you are :)

  • Richard C

    I gather he was looking for a lap counter — like those used in 5k and 10k track races.

  • Lehane

    Hilarious!…..though horse looked thoroughly spent.

  • JustAPlayer

    In the early 1980, I was at LosAl when it had harness racing. Decided that a race would be 1 5/8 miles (2.5 laps). A well-known good horse was in the race. He knew he would run 1.5 laps. He moved to win if the race had been 1 mile. He stopped running and was passed by all the other horses. Looked like he was thinking “why you idiots still running? I won the race.”

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