Homeward-bound King puts family first

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2000, 12:00am

Top Australian jockey Steven King will quit Hong Kong after next Wednesday night's Sha Tin meeting.

King, 30, is splitting with his retaining trainer of the past two years, Ricky Yiu Poon-fie, by mutual consent and for personal reasons.

Yiu and the Melbourne ace have met Jockey Club officials and their request to have the retainer cancelled was yesterday granted by the Licensing Committee.

King was at pains to stress yesterday: 'This is all about me and my family and nothing to do with Ricky and I. He's been very easy to work with and I'm very grateful he took a chance two years ago and signed me as his stable jockey as it wasn't as if I'd set the world on fire as a Club Jockey.

'I've been lucky enough to come here on and off for the past five years, permanently for the last two.

'It's been very competitive and a great experience but now is the right time to go.

'I'm now 30, I have two young children and my wife is sixth months' pregnant with our third. I'm a family man and the time came to make family decisions. The family will be much happier back home on the farm.' King hopes to ride as freelancer in Melbourne.

King and Yiu experienced their best moment together when stable star Fairy King Prawn defeated a quality field in December's inaugural $5.3 million Hong Kong Sprint.

King had insisted a year previously that the Danehill gelding would be up to winning in Group One company in Australia.

He still holds that view even though this season's intended Australian foray has been scuppered by cumbersome quarantine arrangements and also following last Saturday's Centenary Cup defeat by Best Of The Best.

'He could definitely win a Group One down there,' King said.

'He's a top quality sprinter-miler. He wasn't the soundest early on but his legs are good now and next year they may well take a chance on him staying the mile.' King goes into tonight's Happy Valley meeting on the 10-winner mark.

Yiu has sent out 15 winners in what has been a quiet season after last term saddling 40 winners and finishing third in the premiership, just five behind David Hayes. Yiu has used boom claimer Roger Yu as well as King throughout this season.

Meanwhile, the Ivan Allan-trained champion stayer Indigenous left last night for his tilt at the Dubai World Cup to be run a week on Saturday.

Indigenous, a magnificent 1.5-length second to Special Week in the Japan Cup in November, made some late ground into 10th in Saturday's Centenary Cup down the straight 1,000-metre chute.