Just last year, riding his career’s first full season in Pune, Mustakim Alam had emerged as the top apprentice jockey and a year later, he achieved a rare success of winning the jockey championship even while still an apprentice.
“He has a very strong will to win and a fighting spirit,” said Mustakim’s mentor and veteran trainer Narendra Lagad who has groomed about 30-odd jockeys so far in nearly five-decade old career. “He is the best among the jockeys I have groomed and fastest to reach such pinnacle in his such short career,” observed Lagad.
Mustakim had finished with the same 12 number of wins as the top jockey Neeraj Rawal but he had more numbers of second and third place finishes under his belt which helped him emerge the best. “This success has made my belief strong that I can be among the best in the business if I continue to work hard,” said the 23-year-old who was born and reared in a remote village Katta Mattha in the Kisanganj district of rural Bihar.
Mustakim had dropped out of school owing to lack of funds and was looking for a job to support his parents and siblings. One of his neighbors is a syce (horse handler) in Western India, brought him to trainer Lagad’s stable for work in 2017.
“I want to improve my finishing like jockey Suraj Narredu does,” said Mustakim who feels the long homestretch of the Mahalaxmi Racecourse will provide him that opportunity. “Here you can come from far back and still expect to win,” he said.
Mustakim said he has no hesitation in taking advice from top jockeys. “They all, Neeraj, PS Chouhan, Trevor Patel helped me with their inputs whenever I needed to know and correct my mistakes,” added Mustakim.