By Hans Ebert
In recent seasons, we have seen local apprentices return to Hong Kong, and, like some racing scribes have been known to do- along with the HKJC- where there’s almost a desperation to find new racing heroes, some have suffered from premature ejaculation and jumped aboard The Hype Bandwagon. Who mentioned that “viral sensation” Pakistan Star?
Then, remember the hype that greeted female apprentice Kei Chiong and The Poon Train? Voted The Most Popular Jockey In Hong Kong during her first season of riding here, the injury that has kept Kei sidelined this season might have been the reason which prompted her announce her retirement from the sport. On Instagram. Some in Hong Kong expressed shock at the announcement. But why? Surely it’s been on the cards for months?
Having a female jockey in the riding ranks is a good marketing and promotional tool, and despite Kei Chiong going through a short burst of success where she rode four winners at one meeting, a tendon injury has plagued and, no doubt, frustrated the young girl.
Here’s hoping Hong Kong racing doesn’t lose her completely as she can be a very good role model for other young Chinese girls with dreams of being the next Kei Chiong.
Meanwhile, much was expected of Matthew Poon aka The Poon Train.
Despite being a real fighter with a realistic and positive attitude, there’s a world of difference between riding in Adelaide and racing twice a week against many international Group 1 winning jockeys.
While the other two apprentices- Jack Wong and Dylan Mo- are sidelined by an injury and suspension, respectively, returning to Hong Kong after riding stints in New Zealand and currently in Adelaide will be young apprentice Alfred Chan.
The Hong Kong-born jockey is already showing glimpses of real talent as shown back in 2016 at Morphetville when he rode his first winner there on Sagaab, below. It was a superb ride as have been some of his recent wins for the Lloyd Kennewell yard.
Whereas Hong Kong racing fans might have to wait a while more before seeing The Chan Man in action, apprentice Victor Wong, for some reason nicknamed The Lawnmower Man, below, who’s riding with success in Adelaide, should be riding in Hong Kong next season. But The Lawnmower Man?
What might help make these Hong Kong born apprentices better and more well rounded riding talents is if, somehow, they could hone their skills by working with a trainer like David Hayes in Melbourne- a trainer who knows the ins and outs of Hong Kong racing and the baptisms of fire awaiting them when they return to home base?
If young riding talent from Western Australia are, more and more, afforded this opportunity to ride in the very competitive environment of Melbourne, why not those from Hong Kong?
Riding stints in Heavy 10 tracks in New Zealand and then graduating to hone their skills in Adelaide and places like Gosford have been helpful to Hong Kong apprentices, but this “business model” hasn’t changed in over a decade. No one at the HKJC thinks this work experience might need an overhaul? Hmmmm?
Meanwhile, while many in Hong Kong were applauding the riding skills of Joao Moreira on Sunday to win on Ping Hai Treasure, who formerly raced as, er, Ted in Australia, not so the panel of racing experts, below, heard on Monday on Melbourne’s dead people’s racing and sports channel.
After jabbering on about dress codes and kids being allowed to wear shorts to the races, but, despite the recent heatwave in Melbourne, adults not being able to do the same, this panel led by someone named Gatorade (?) believed that the win had everything to do with a freakish horse. The name Pakistan Star was thrown in for good measure. Please. Not Pakistan Star again.
Sure, fellas, and one guesses the same supposes can be said about the win of Time To Celebrate in the last race on Sunday at Sha Tin. It was just another “sit and steer job” by Joao Moreira? Whatever…
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