Kei Chiong is the first female apprentice to be licenced to compete on Hong Kong’s ultra-competitive circuit for 15 years and the young rider, 22, is aware of the attention this will bring.
Rather than feeling unduly pressured, Chiong said that she was “excited” at the prospect of riding in front of a large crowd at Sunday’s 2015/16 season opener.
She was introduced to the racing media last week.
“There will be some pressure but pressure can also be a motivation, so I will work hard, study the form and watch videos to prepare and I will give my best,” she said.
“In New Zealand I had 545 rides for 44 winners and rode at 25 tracks. It was great experience and I also gained a good general horse knowledge, things like horse breeding and how to break-in a horse. These experiences have helped me a lot in preparing to ride here in Hong Kong.”
Chiong, who was indentured to Allan Sharrock in New Zealand for the overseas portion of her apprentice jockey training and is now under the guidance of Francis Lui at Sha Tin, revealed that she has paid particular attention to the style and intelligence that former Champion Jockey Zac Purton exhibits in a race.
She also said that she is looking forward to tapping into the experience of former top jockey Felix Coetzee, who will play a role in mentoring the riders at the Hong Kong Apprentice Jockeys’ School this season.
“I want to learn from him the riding skills I’ll need and how to find a good position in races, and how to get the best out of a horse,” said Chiong. “I hope to get a lot of rides, keep improving my riding skills and hope that I can get plenty of winners.”
On Sunday at Sha Tin, Kei ran a close second on just her second ride and returned to the parade ring to rapturous applause from the 72000 crowd.