IN Racing
Positive mindset leads Prastiyou back to winner’s stall
It’s been a tough few years for jockey Doni Prastiyou
NZ Racing Desk | June 16, 2022
Kantra. Photo: Kenton Wright

It’s been a tough few years for jockey Doni Prastiyou, but a positive mindset led the Malaysian native back to the winner’s stall at Cambridge on Wednesday.

Prastiyou has suffered some health issues in recent years, but his dogged determination resulted in his return to the saddle, culminating in his first victory in two years when riding Kantra to a long neck victory in the The Oaks Stud 2000 for trainer Jason Price on the Cambridge polytrack.

Prastiyou was elated to salute the judge once more, especially after trying times and a battle with an autoimmune disease.

“It has been a long journey,” Prastiyou said.

“I have an autoimmune issue. My immune system flairs up quite badly, which hurts my joints, and it does affect me mentally as well and I get fatigued quite badly.

“I don’t know where it has come from, but I think it is more than stress.”

With COVID-19 lockdowns and border restrictions, Prastiyou has been isolated in New Zealand from his family back in Malaysia, and he said that has had a major impact on him.

“Being away from my family is really hard, I am alone here,” he said.

“I have to look after myself – be a mother to myself, a father to myself.”

While he doesn’t have any family in New Zealand, Prastiyou said his employer Paul Richards and his wife Leanne have become like family to him.

“Luckily enough I have genuine friends here like Paul and Leanne. They are as close to family I have here, and they are always there for me,” Prastiyou said.

While it has been a trying few years, Prastiyou said he has adopted a positive mindset, and when he hasn’t been able to ride, he has been constantly trying to self-improve.

“I always get up and find my purpose,” he said.

“I don’t let struggles stop me, I still want to get up every morning and improve myself. 

“When I couldn’t go out riding, I thought why don’t I self-improve? There is always room to improve yourself.

“As long as there is a step forward, something will lead to another thing.

“I have an incredible mindset, if I want something I will go and get it. I am very disciplined, I never miss a day of work.”

With the borders now opening, Prastiyou said he cannot wait to reunite with his family.

“I haven’t seen my parents in five years,” he said. 

“Before the first lockdown, my parents were going to come and see me, and I was very excited. I had bought their flights and had everything sorted and then the lockdown happened.

“That gave me a lot of stress. A lot of sickness comes from stress. 

“If there is nothing to stress about, then don’t stress. Just let it go and concentrate on something.

“Hopefully this year I would love to fly them over here to see me, or I go back for a couple of weeks.”

Previously ensconced in the South Island, Prastiyou is pleased to be back in the North Island, working for Paul Richards at Matamata, for whom he was apprenticed early on in his riding career.

“When I went back down south, the opportunities were hard up here because it is quite competitive,” Prastiyou said.

“I thought I would go down south to give myself a better go. Things just didn’t work out and I had a few health problems.

“In the meantime, I tried to get my health back and got my head right.

“Paul then rang me and asked me to come back up here again as there aren’t that many riders around.

“I was apprenticed to Paul back in Wingatui back in 2012/13 before he moved up to train in partnership with Peter Williams. 

“I then transferred my apprenticeship to Shane Kennedy and then I got offered a position with Peter Williams. 

“I have never looked back; I always enjoy riding.”

Doni Prastiyou Jason Price The Oaks Stud Paul Richards