Tsui is man of the year

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 July, 2008, 12:00am

The numbers show he finished third on the trainers' ladder, but for what he achieved and the class of cattle he achieved it with, Me Tsui Yu-sak is our trainer of the year.

Tsui has grafted victory after victory with ordinary animals, many of them refugees from bigger-name trainers that couldn't make them go and were glad to see the back of them. But they received a fresh chance under the bespectacled local horseman, who turned around one equine career after another until suddenly, there he was, with 51 winners on the board and only the big names of John Size and Caspar Fownes ahead of him among the leaders of his profession.

Tsui has just four horses in his yard rated Class Two or better and one of them is a transfer horse yet to race for him. The most amazing one is Fat Dragon, who arrived as a Class Five maiden just over two years and has now won seven races, earned nearly HK$3.6 million and these days earns his living in Class Two. Look at slow horses like On Shan Brave, never closer than 11th in his first five starts, but Tsui eventually won a race with him. Or Kingston Temple, a candidate for the slowest horse award, moved across and magically won at his first start for the 'rejuvenation centre'. Or Crystal, who had failed to win in 32 starts for two previous trainers but, in six starts for Tsui, had a breakthrough victory and three other placings as well.

And just to show he's got what it takes with young horses as well as the old warriors, Tsui won two griffin races with Seize The Day and My Smartie.

John Ridley, the Jockey Club's head of racing operations, says when Tsui was assistant trainer to Francis Lui Kin-wai, he was always top of the class in the club's formal education programme. 'We knew then he had a good brain on him,' he said. 'And as for his work ethic, he's non-stop - the only person at Sha Tin I could compare with him is John Size.'