Race is on to snare coveted spot at jockey school
Talent alone is not enough to make it as a jockey - apprentices must put in 60-hour weeks of rigorous and varied training.
As the Jockey Club prepares to sign up its next recruits, Amy Chan Lim-chee, headmistress of the Apprentice Jockeys' School, revealed the secrets for success.
'We help them to set targets - targets to become world-class jockeys,' said Chan, who manages the training and educational programme for the club's Racing Development Board.
There are 1,000 applicants for this year's intake, of whom just 20 will be selected.
The apprentices are put through a multi-phase programme covering everything from riding techniques to stable management.
Under the tutelage of racing veterans, students are expected to commit themselves to more than 10 hours of training a day, six days a week, progressing along a structured but varied course in order to become a fully accredited racing jockey.
Learning the skills of a rider is only half the equation. Apprentices can study such courses as English, personal financial management, sports science, and information technology. They are also sent overseas to take part in competitions and experience various racing environments. It all helps them handle the challenges they will inevitably face in their racing careers.
Alvin Ng Ka-chun is one of the many stellar apprentices who has made it through the ranks. Before joining the club in 2006, he had no knowledge of racing.
But his natural athleticism and positive attitude ensured he was one of the best trainees. He has won 71 races in New Zealand and Australia, and 27 races in Hong Kong - achievements that netted him the 'Most Promising Jockey' award.
Chan says what sets local apprentices apart from the rest of the world is the emphasis on the importance of integrity and a humble personality.
'If you want them to be very successful at a later stage, it should be instilled at a younger age. In the racing industry, temptation is so big.'