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Lyle’s Super Sunday Looms Large

Hong Kong Season kicks off on 1 September

As if having Zac Purton, Joao Moreira and Karis Teetan among a raft of talented jockeys wasn’t enough, the pool of Hong Kong Jockey Club riders has deepened with the additions of Blake Shinn and Lyle Hewitson ahead of the 2019/20 season opener at Sha Tin on Sunday, 1 September.

Hewitson is a precocious two-time champion jockey in South Africa; Shinn is a former Sydney champion riding into town off a hot streak in Australia. Both were unveiled at a media gathering on Tuesday and both stressed that their being there was the fulfillment of a long-held “dream”.

SAJA graduates Lyle Hewitson, Karis Teetan and Aldo Domeyer

“I had these aspirations to ride in Hong Kong at a young age, so when the phone call came there was no hesitation in saying yes,” Shinn said, while Hewitson echoed that sentiment, affirming that “It’s any jockey’s dream, to come here.”

Hewitson, 21, has been turning heads beyond his homeland for a couple of years now. One year ago he became the first South African apprentice to claim the overall national title since Michael Roberts in 1973; his second title, achieved this summer, set a new record haul of 219 wins.

“I’m really blessed to be in this position,” he said. “It wasn’t necessarily a decision: I was in a position that I was doing really well for a great stable at home but this opportunity was something I couldn’t turn down.”

Happy Valley sunset (photo: supplied)

Happy Valley sunset (photo: supplied)

Shinn, 31 and a Melbourne Cup-winning rider, is looking forward to advancing his profile on the world scene. He sees Hong Kong as the ideal stage.

“Competing on that world stage is something I’ve always aspired to do,” he said. “I’ve followed the great jockeys like Frankie Dettori and Darren Beadman, they’re my idols, they’re the blokes that I want to try and be like.

“Hong Kong, for me, it’s the Mecca for racing around the world. Darren Beadman had great years here for John Moore, you have great horses coming here at the international meetings; I remember things like Falbrav and Dettori here, those things stick in my memory. I just hope one day I get that chance to be that jockey winning the big races, so now I’m here I’m very excited.”

Shinn and Hewitson are eager to get going on Sunday with the former booked for eight rides and the latter for five, so far.

“I’m really looking forward to Sunday,” Hewitson said. “To have five rides on such a competitive card, I’m pretty proud of that. I’m appreciative of every single one of the rides and I think they’re competitive in their respective fields. If I can hit the board running pretty early that would be a great start. I’m really looking forward to it and I’m going to make the most of it.

“It’s a challenge that excites me,” he continued. “Back home in South Africa we’ve got world class riders and the fact that I could compete at the top level with them stands me in good stead coming here.”

Hewitson is getting his first taste of Hong Kong but Shinn already has a little experience under his belt. The Australian even put in a visit on his own time a couple of years ago, riding a bit of track work for the John Moore stable.

“I think I got suspended at that time and it was a chance to come here and learn,” he said. “I like Hong Kong and when I got the chance to come and ride a bit of work here I took it, thinking maybe one day I might get here. Now that I’m here, having had that experience, I suppose it might help.”

Shinn and Hewitson will join a 23-strong line-up that also includes the likes of Vincent Ho, Chad Schofield, Umberto Rispoli, Neil Callan, Grant van Niekerk, Regan Bayliss, Derek Leung, Matthew Chadwick and Alberto Sanna.

The circuit is famously competitive, with no quarter given in the jostle to get aboard the best horses.

“I won’t be putting a numerical goal ahead of me,” Hewitson said. “The main thing is to gain the trust of owners and trainers, build those relationships, and do well enough to extend my contract then build a long-term contract here in Hong Kong.”

Shinn, too, sees those relationships as vital, along with a dedication to do his best. And a quick start wouldn’t do any harm either.

“I want to try and hit the ground running as best I can, work hard, and try to go hard early – win races,” he said. “If I can do that I can set myself up for a good six months and hopefully get extended.  I want to base myself here long-term. I’m determined to do well, determined to ride winners, and be up there as one of the leading riders in Hong Kong, so I’m going to try to make that happen.”

  • Hong Kong Jockey Club

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16 comments on “Lyle’s Super Sunday Looms Large

  1. HORSE BOSS says:

    Well The NHA, does really play foul, Lyle and his 14 day suspension have now disappeared.

    It was said he would not be riding in the first two weeks in the HK Season….. since he would carry last season’s suspension with him to Hong Kong.

    This now really supports a certain Jockeys cries/ sentiments of foul play from within the Authority…..

    Where is the justice Mr Editor???

    1. Editor says:

      Will check with NHA – he could have served it in the first two weeks of this month.

    2. Editor says:

      NHRA CEO Vee Moodley has responded as follows:

      ‘We cannot comment at this stage until the Hewitson Inquiry’ process’ is completed.
      We shall be issuing a Press Release once we have confirmation.’

  2. Art says:

    Stop the whining .Lyle is the champ.Long live the champ

  3. Shanil says:

    Knowing the controversy surrounding this the NHA should have released a statement aleeady if he had served the suspension already.

    1. Editor says:

      Agree Shanil
      We have emailed them to request clarity

  4. Nico says:

    Some would call it whinning, others would say the NHA really need to pull their socks up. It was said he’ll serve his suspension in the first two weeks, why has it changed without anyone notified..

  5. Robert says:

    What about Muzi’s 90 day suspension??
    He seems to be riding every day so far this month. When will the suspension be implemented?
    What he did to Lyle in that race at Greyville was diabolical, possibly the worst and irresponsible behaviour I’ve ever seen by a jockey. He should have got 6 months!

  6. Ernest says:

    Lyle, Very nice you have been accepted in Hong Kong.”It has been my Dream” Dream on young man.The Hong Kong Jockey Club article, has already called you “Precocious” They must have been watching you.Maybe they are correct?However, many top Jockeys have broken down in Hong Kong after their “Dream has come true”You will receive plenty of suspensions, which you will have to take immediately ..and they will hit your pocket with huge fines.If you continue to be Precocious, the fans will dislike you, the trainers will not be happy with you and you will learn the hard way.It is very different there.Remember ,these are the big boys, and you are the youngster.not the top dog.I hope you do well, but you will be brought down to earth, very quickly if you remain Precocious

    1. Editor says:

      Ernest, it was the Hong Kong journo that labelled Lyle ‘precocious’
      Hardly a criticism.
      Give him a chance rather!

  7. Paul says:

    Robert: Muzi has appealed. In terms of NHA Rules, the penalty (suspension) is held in abeyance until the Appeal Board has heard the matter and made its decision. This is the position applicable to all and an obvious (and quite legal) way of delaying the suspension.

  8. Paul says:

    Perhaps Ernest can confirm/explain his understanding of the term ‘precocious’. Based on his comments, my understanding is clearly different.

  9. HORSE BOSS says:

    Mr Editor, I see Muzis suspension is 90 days, by the real question here is ,was an inquiry held into why he (Hewitson) had bumped Yeni in the first place or did they (NHA) let him run away to Hong Kong without,questioning or holding him accountable for Bumping into Muzi?

    They need to be fair and equal to all, we cannot have have a jockey instigate an incident but then run away to a foreign country , without any inquiry being opened into the circumstances that led to another Jockey being suspended??

    Let’s hear what Hyde and Moodley have to say?
    In fairness and equality, Lyle should have also picked up , incurred a suspension for that ugly bump , but yet was let off Scott free.

    Where’s the Equality there, Yeni should rightfully appeal and Lyle should be brought back to answer why he had bumped Muzi.

    If they don’t bring him back from Hong Kong then the 90 days ban on Yeni, should be dropped.

    NHA think we are all stupid, as I’ve said before , bring back the Old Gaurd…..

  10. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Dear Lyle.

    “Never Regret. If it’s Good, it’s Wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience”

    Go and have a Wonderful time in HK, make us proud (again).

    At 21, already a 2 time SA champ 👍

  11. ernest says:

    Hi Paul Google it simple type ” precocious negative”

  12. Paul says:

    Ernest, I would respectfully suggest you are imposing the negative. The dictionary description of the word ‘precocious’ ordinarily does not include any negative; and I do not read any intended negative in the use of the term in the original article. Like the term ‘pedantic’, precocious appears to have inherited an unintended negative connotation to some.

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