True to word, the 36-year-old jockey created a sensation at the races yesterday by winning those two races — prevailing narrowly in a hair-raising three-way photo finish to win astride 18-to-1 shot Wind And Rain in the first race, and then romping home in style with Pretty In Patpong to win by a wide margin of six-and-a-half lengths in the last race on the card. Both winners were trained by Hormuz Antia.
Obviously, the first call he received after switching on the cell phone in the evening was from wife Rekha who had a tough time congratulating him, with both the children — daughter Kumkum (8) and son Kartik Raj (5) — jumping at her and shouting to be heard. “Papa, come home immediately, I want to hug you,” five-year-old Kartik screamed into the phone.
Of course, Hanumant Singh cannot go to his family so soon. He has a job to do. “I have been working for (trainer) Antia sir for two years now and I am grateful to him for trusting me with these chance rides,” he told MiD DAY.
Hanumant Singh was once a darling of the Pune racing crowd. In the 1994-95 season, he bagged the champion apprentice jockey title, and at a very young age of 17, he even won the Pune Derby with Grey Magic. But his whole world turned upside down when he met with a tragic accident at the Pune racetrack in September 1995 that left him with a serious injury to his head which took a really long time to heal.
“Making a comeback after injury is very difficult because you may be highly motivated, but you stop getting good, live mounts. And in this game, the truth is good horses make good jockeys — so it’s sort of a vicious cycle which is very difficult to break,” Hanumant said.
“Of course, one has to keep trying. I really worked very hard this time to get my riding weight down to 49 kg and with today’s double, I just hope things will start looking up for me,” Hanumant signed off.