Two brothers from an island nation on the other side of the world have brought their racetrack sibling rivalry to New Zealand.
Ashvin Mudhoo, 24, and his younger brother Jeetesh, 21, are apprentice jockeys based in Levin with trainer Illone Kelly after learning to ride horses in their home country of Mauritius.
Ashvin might be the older brother with more raceday experience, but he was yet to beat his younger brother across the finish line in a race.
Jeetesh made a dream start to raceday riding when his first win came from his first raceday ride, at New Plymouth last Thursday aboard Jane O', a mare trained by Kelly.
He had four more rides at the weekend. While they were all unplaced, he did manage to beat his older brother home on each occasion.
Ashvin was the more experienced rider of the two, though. He was the first to travel to New Zealand, in 2017. He took up an apprenticeship with John and Karen Parsons at Balcairn in the South Island.
But he moved north to Levin on loan during the Covid-19 lockdown when all racing ceased, and liked it so much he stayed on, even helping entice his younger brother to join the team.
"It's a bit warmer up here," he said.
"It's been a good move. We have had good support from local trainers."
When racing resumed again this time last year, he had ridden just one winner. Now, he has ridden 20 winners, with the 19 wins this year earning $373,391 in stake money.
Jeetesh said he learnt a lot from his first raceday experience last week and slept well after having five rides.
"It's a different type of fitness compared to track riding. You can't beat raceday experience," he said.
"My legs were like jelly."
Tomorrow at the Awapuni races Ashvin has three rides - Hartley, Eagle County and Atenartin. while Jeetesh has two - Miss Lizzie and Slim. Atenartin and Slim are in the same race.
They both belonged to an apprentice training group headed by ex-jockey Kim Clapperton that met each week, and they said they had taken on all the advice they could, realising they were just beginning and still had a lot to learn.
"You pick up all the good stuff people are teaching you. That's the main thing," they said.
The two brothers were a long way from their home in the islands of Mauritius where they have lots of family. They regularly maintain contact through video links to give progress reports and share any success.
Racing was popular in Mauritius, but there were limited opportunities, hence the move abroad.
They had done well to master the English language so quickly. It was incredible that Ashvin spoke little English when he first arrive four years ago. They spoke Creole in Mauritius.
"I just listened. I was the quiet boy in the corner always listening to what people say, picking up lines. After a while I began to understand it well," he said.
There were now a good number of their fellow countrymen in the New Zealand riding ranks. They counted 13 that were in the New Zealand riding ranks, including top apprentice Ashvin Goindasamy.
Mauritius, officially the Republic of Mauritius, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean 2000km southeast of Africa, just east of Madagascar - population 1.5million.
It includes the main island Mauritius, as well as Rodrigues, Agaléga and St Brandon. The islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues, along with nearby Réunion, are part of the Mascarene Islands.
The capital and largest city, Port Louis, is in Mauritius, where most of the population is concentrated. The country spans 2040 sq km.
By some accounts, Arab sailors were the first to discover the uninhabited island, about AD975, and they called it Dina Arobi, but this has not been confirmed.
The earliest confirmed discovery was in 1507 by Portuguese sailors, who otherwise took little interest in the islands.
The Dutch took possession in 1598, establishing a succession of short-lived settlements over a period of about 120 years, before abandoning their efforts in 1710.
France took control in 1715, renaming it Isle de France. In 1810, the island was seized by Great Britain, and four years later France ceded Mauritius and its dependencies to Britain.
Mauritius remained a primarily plantation-based colony of the United Kingdom until independence in 1968.