Settling into Hong Kong life
9 Dec 2016
Hello and greetings from Hong Kong! After a few weeks I’ve just about settled in now, though I have to say that the first days were quite tough getting into the regime over here.
I’m living on the track at Sha Tin and it’s very early starts in the mornings and I could be riding work on up to 10 horses first thing. The jockeys are well looked after, though, and you get an apartment and gym membership. I’ve been riding at my lowest weight of 8 stone 6 so that has helped with that going on the treadmill, the bikes and doing plenty of walking every day.
After coming from a season winding down it did take a while to adjust to the intensity but I’m really enjoying the experience and feel much sharper mentally for it. Things just happen so quickly in the races and you have to jump out and get a position.
In terms of the tracks Happy Valley is very tight but Sha Tin is much more like a British course. It’s a steep learning curve but all I ever wanted growing up was to be an International jockey and I’m very appreciative of the support and advice from the likes of Kevin Darley, Mick Kinane and Sheikh Fahad.
It was great to get my first winner on the board as it’s very competitive getting the decent rides and as I’m now developing relationships with some of the trainers, hopefully I can add to my tally in the coming weeks.
The culture over here is crazy and has also taken some getting used to. There is massive media hype for the jockeys and I get in taxis and they recognise me and know my name in Cantonese! I love the fact that the people take a massive interest in the racing, though, and the atmosphere at the races really is incredible. The crowds really get behind you when you have a winner – even though I am more reserved than the regular riders here. Sometimes you see Mickael Barzalona-esque celebrations for winning a Class 5!
Unfortunately I’m not riding at the big International meeting this weekend but I am really looking forward to some of the best horses in the world battling it out at Sha Tin on Sunday. The Japanese should have a good meeting and I think that Maurice will win the feature Hong Kong Cup.
Ryan Moore should also win the Hong Vase on Highland Reel as I just can’t see anything else giving him a race if he’s 100%. The Japanese mare Nuovo Record may chase him home.
Able Friend has had an interrupted preparation, which makes the Mile wide open, whilst the locals probably have the Sprint sewn up.
It should be a great night and fingers crossed I can get back on the scoresheet myself on Wednesday when I have seven rides.
HORSE TO FOLLOW: Pakistan Star
Creates a lot of noise as he comes from so far back in his races but he could possibly be a Group horse and has an amazing turn of foot. He races on Sunday in the closing mile handicap.
Image courtesy of Twitter/@HKJC_Racing