Tsui sings Leung's praises after apprentice scores on Be My Song
It was an irony not lost on Me Tsui Yu-sak that his 100th winner as a trainer yesterday was the Hong Kong first for apprentice Derek Leung Ka-chun.
Leung, 19, was licensed for the start of the new season, although at this stage he can only ride at Sha Tin. But now that he's broken the ice with all-the-way winner Be My Song, additional opportunities should come his way.
Leung gained experience working in New Zealand with trainer Lance O'Sullivan who, as 12-times champion jockey of that country, should know something about riding potential.
After Leung had ridden seven winners during his stay at Matamata, O'Sullivan reported back to the Jockey Club that the teenager could 'kick them home as strongly as any claimer in New Zealand'.
'I've been impressed by Derek and the thing I've watched is how his mounts respond when he's riding them out,' says Tsui, who is also a former jockey.
'Even when he's using the whip, his horses are going straight, not shifting about at all, that means he's very well balanced'.
The lad himself was feeling on top of the world after landing the 16-1 winner, which made some punters happy as he was plunged in from 31-1 in the final minutes of betting.
'I am really enjoying my work,' Leung said. 'People say it is hard, but it was even harder in New Zealand. It was much longer hours and harder work than here, so I am coping, no problem.
'I am trying to learn as fast as I can and I'm not feeling any pressure. When people give me rides, it makes me feel pleasure because I know they are showing their trust in me.'
Be My Song is the latest graduate from Tsui's reform school, which has turned around one rogue or non-winner after another over the past two seasons. Be My Song's scoreline before yesterday was 14 starts for just one second placing.
'I've tried different things with his gear but today, I think the hood has made the difference. He's a nervous horse and it seems the less he hears, the more inclined he is to relax properly,' the trainer said.