|South African Jockey Academy To Train Hong Kong Apprentices
Two apprentice jockeys from Hong Kong, Jonathon Tai and Dylan Mo, have arrived for a two year training stint at the South African Jockey Academy based at Summerveld. It is the first time that the Academy will be training apprentices from Hong Kong.
Jonathan Tai is the son of a former assistant trainer, so did have some experience before joining the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) Apprentice Jockey School two-and-a-half years ago, while Dylan Mo started from scratch three years ago. They have both made good progress and to date Dylan has ridden in 45 barrier trials, while Jonathan has ridden in 22. Jonathan is attached to the yard of Michael Chang, while Mo rides for John Moore and Me Tsui.
Both apprentices look up to champion jockey, Weichong Marwing, who completed his jockey apprenticeship at the South African Jockey Academy many years ago as their role model. “I like his riding style,” said Jonathan and Dylan added, “He just looks very strong.”
The pair arrived in Durban on Monday, 6 May and will soon start riding track work. They were accompanied by the HKJC Apprentice Jockey School headmistress Amy Chan, who is an athlete herself having played badminton in the Olympic Games.
The HKJC Apprentice Jockey School leaves nothing to chance and has a highly sophisticated program. There is a very big recruiting program where tests on various aspects including balance are done. In their second year the students are divided into those suitable for race riding and those that will become work riders according to their riding ability, attitude and character. The race riders then embark on an advanced sports science program that includes bio-mechanics, sports psychology and sports nutrition, on top of race riding skills. The school also attempts to place them overseas. Fluency in English is an important prerequisite. The School currently has apprentices in New Zealand, Australia and now South Africa.
The idea of forming this partnership was hatched partly due to the four South Africans that work under Amy Chan at the Apprentice Jockey School in Hong Kong, Craig Benton, Mitchell Curtis, Michael de Beer and Izak Cronje. The South African Jockey Academy is renowned around the world due to the international exploits of its graduates and these include 13-time Hong Kong Jockey Champion Douglas Whyte as well as Weichong Marwing and another ex-pat South African who rides there, Richard Fourie.
“We wish Jonathan and Dylan a happy and rewarding stay at the Academy and may they gain invaluable racing experience from the best and ride many winners while in South Africa” said Charles Grey, marketing manager of the South African Jockey Academy.