Yeung gives up riding to focus on studies
Senior jockey Thomas Yeung Kai-tong provided a late-season shock last night, announcing he would return to his studies and not accept the licence the Hong Kong Jockey Club had offered him for next season.
Yeung, who turns 26 on Saturday, has enjoyed a successful season with 25 winners, though the term was punctuated with a nine-meeting ban for a ride on Packing Winner where the stewards controversially deemed he had not given the gelding every opportunity to win or obtain the best-possible placing.
Yeung said he would go to Curtin University in West Australia to study for a degree in business management - a course which he expected to complete in four years.
'Curtin University has agreed to accept me as a senior student,' Yeung explained. 'This is not something that has happened suddenly, but it has been something I have been considering over the past four months or so.
'I've given it a great deal of thought and discussed it with my family. This is the way I have decided to go, but I haven't dismissed the possibility of returning to racing at some time in the future.'
Jockey Club executive director of racing Bill Nader said the club had accepted Yeung's decision with regret, but said the young rider left with the club's best wishes.
'Thomas has been riding very well and we were looking forward to his making an even bigger impact next season, and I believe he would have,' Nader said. 'But he has made this decision with a view to the long term and we have to respect that.'
This is the second time Yeung has walked away from his career as a jockey. He was clearly the best 10-pound claimer during 2003-04 and had all the top trainers queuing up for his services when he suddenly found the pressure too much.
After time away in England, where he rode in Newmarket for former Hong Kong trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam, Yeung rediscovered his hunger to be a jockey and returned to the local scene, memorably riding a winner at his first ride back on Wisdom Express on March 15, 2006.