Winners and a wedding – what you’ve missed in the Hong Kong racing off-season
We are less than three weeks into the off-season but there is still a lot happening in the Hong Kong racing world – here is a snapshot.
Vincent Ho Chak-yiu enjoyed a career-best season in Hong Kong – winning the Tony Cruz Award as the leading local jockey – and he has taken his good form to Britain.
The 29-year-old is having a stint with Mark Johnston and secured a winner aboard the Keith Dalgleish-trained Forever A Lady at Ayr in Scotland on Monday.
“It’s good when I have the off-season because I can ride at different tracks and I can learn a lot more,” Ho said afterwards.
“It’s very different to Hong Kong because we only have Sha Tin and Happy Valley – although they have a different course each week, it’s still the same track.
“It’s a lot better to go around the world, especially in the UK. The horsemanship is really, really good. The history – you just can’t beat that. It’s a great place for me to learn.”
He collected a double at his first meeting, guiding Wineglass Bay to victory at $71 before also saluting with Century Arrow at Spreyton last Sunday.
South African rider Aldo Domeyer has also tasted success in his home country, while Matthew Chadwick rode at the Macau Derby meeting.
Nash Rawiller is back in action after serving his 15-month disqualification and he wasted no time returning to the winner’s circle.
The Australian, who was found guilty of receiving gifts or money in exchange for tips in Hong Kong last year, had two winners in his first meeting back at Kembla Grange on Thursday, July 25. It was probably fitting the name of the horse he rode to victory was Escaped.
In the lead-up to his return, Rawiller broke his silence on the ordeal which saw him interrogated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption as well as being prevented from leaving Hong Kong for five months.
“I guess it wasn’t just the shock of getting the 15 months at first, but obviously what came after that,” Rawiller told Australian radio station RSN.
“Getting to the airport and about to get on a plane and being told I’m not going anywhere and having my passport suspended. I had one foot in the door. It was a bit of a shock.
“They investigated me for the next five months and I was held there with my passport taken off me.”
Rawiller admitted one of his first thoughts was the Chris Munce situation – the jockey served 20 months in jail over the “tips for bets affair” last decade.
“It is the first thing that comes to mind,” Rawiller said. “I knew what I’d done and knew I probably shouldn’t be in the position I was in, but I still had to go through the process.
“And you have that unknown little factor that you don’t know what someone else has said or done.
“I kept confident the whole way through that everything would be OK but they were very trying times obviously. I just had to let it all play out. It’s probably made me a better person.”
Hewitson collects South African title
Talented youngster Lyle Hewitson will make his way to Hong Kong full of confidence after securing his second straight South African jockeys’ championship.
The 21-year-old, who collected 218 winners for the season, beat rival Muzi Yeni in a tight finish to claim the prize.
Hewitson now heads to Hong Kong to further bolster the riding ranks after securing a six-month contract.
Meanwhile, Luke Ferraris – son of trainer David – was crowned South Africa’s champion apprentice after booting home 81 winners.