Equine champs of past help riders shape up
The Racing Talent Development Stable has been a huge leap forward for instilling basic horsemanship into the students, and a number of former racehorses form an important part of the 'staff'.
Super Wongchoy, who earned his oats at the yard of trainer Alex Wong Yu-on, is one that has found a new lease of life working with the trainees. The dark brown horse was the perfect model with trainee Tim Wong Ho-koon putting him though his paces. Another is Temmoku, who raced for Andy Leung Ting-wah until he was 10 and that toughness he demonstrated in training is now a big asset as he helps shape the work riders of the future and maybe, just maybe, a future champion jockey as well.
'It's important that they are sound, and of good temperament, because they have to do a lot of work - it's just like being a racehorse,' said riding instructor Glen Stockdale.
Other horses, retired from the track, now making a contribution at the school include King Palm, Aqua Treasure, South China Ninety, Main Attraction and two sons of the mighty Danehill - Laser Glory and Star Prodigy.
The barn runs like a normal stable, though the lads get a slight reprieve - a 6am start - during the week as they have to come in from Beas River. But on weekends, the stables are open for work at 4.30am, and need to be mucked out and sparkling clean one hour later.
The former racehorses make a secondary contribution, with the world-renowned Jockey Club laboratory able to use them for studies on the withdrawal periods for prescribed therapeutic medicines.
'It's an expensive process,' programme chief John Graham admits. 'But the club realised up front that there was no point developing it unless it was prepared to spend the required amount of money.
'I'm confident, however, there will be some big dividends not far down the track. We're hoping we can find a new home-grown jockey superstar that will be the best thing for racing.'