Jockey Suraj Narredu, now joins the the elite league of Indian jockeys who have completed riding 1000 winners when he rode Becket to victory in the Gr 3 Nizam's Gold Cup at Hyderabad last month. Almost eight years back, when this young college-going kid got the getting license as an apprentice at the Bangalore Turf Club, he would have hardly imagined that he would reach the milestone so early in his age. As he says “I don’t race for titles, but, for performance. I always wanted to put up a good performance.”
With his victory last month, Narredu has become the youngest Indian jockey to join the 1000 winners club. And, with this, he also joins the league of his family – his father Satish Narredu and his uncle Malesh Narredu – who have also reached this milestone.
MyBangalore: Of all the jockeys, you have been one of the youngest so far to have joined the 1000 winners club. How does it feel?
Suraj Narredu: It is surely a nice thing, and it feels great. Having said this, I was never focusing on this part of my career, instead I would focus more on my performance. I wanted to ride good horses, and be a good performer. My sole intention has been to do well as a jockey.
What do you remember about Suraj Narredu as a young kid?
I have always loved sports, and I knew I would one day choose Sports as my career. Being with Dad and uncle inclined me towards Horse Riding. I would often go to the Race course with them, and how intrigued I would be to see them riding the horses. I wanted to be a Jockey one day, but wasn’t sure till as time I finished my intermediates.
Summer vacations were really special for me at that time, for that was the time I would spend the whole day with my dad and uncle.
When did you decide to be a jockey?
After much anticipation, I got myself enrolled at the riding school in Race course. This was while I was in my intermediate at MES College. I would take part in some the amateur and Gymkhana races then. My Dad was my personal trainer, and it was some of the most delightful days of my life.
When did you first win a big race of your life?
One of the first big races that I won was for Dr. Vijay Mallya in a horse called the Classical Act. I was just 18 years old then.
Of all the races you have taken part in, which has one of your favourites?
The one is Hyderabad recently was one of the big races. It was the same race which marked my 1000 wins. Also, the race in Dubai, Nad Al-Sheba racecourse, which I think has got one of the best tracks in the world.
Do you often set goals for yourself?
No, I never set goals. In fact, you can never set goals as a jockey. My goal is to ride quality horses and win as many titles as I can, win the big tournaments, you know. As a jockey, nothing can be pre-planed.
How do you prepare yourself on a big day of the tournament?
I try to spend a lot of time staying at home, thinking about the race the next day. This helps me to concentrate and stay focused. I family know about it, and they like to cut me out of their work completely on that day (laughs). Not even my wife Riya.
What has been Riya’s role in your success?
She, just like my other family members, has played a very important part in my life. She understands me a lot, and I am glad that she is not from the industry. I am always surrounded by people from the industry, our talks, are mostly on horse riding, tournaments, strategies and winning et al, but, when I come home and speak to Riya, it’s a different joy. At least, there is somebody I can talk about stupid things and crack jokes over simpler things in life (laughs). She is a great stress buster.
What would be your advice to somebody who is trying to pursue his career as a jockey?
Life of a jockey is not easy. You will have to be very determined and focused. Honesty is something that counts a lot. You will have to love the sport, and not look for anything else. What’s great about being a jockey, is that it is only job that pays you to be fit.
It’s a male dominated sport, but it’s not impossible for women too. Again, as I said, you will have to really hard working to do be a successful jockey.