People's horse Fairy King Prawn bids farewell to city

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 May, 2011, 12:00am

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Celebrated racehorse Fairy King Prawn will say goodbye to Hong Kong and enjoy its retirement in the green pastures of New Zealand.

After almost 14 years in the city, the first Hong Kong-trained horse to win a top overseas race will make the move in September.

The two-time Hong Kong horse of the year was bought in Australia in August 1997 by owner Philip Lau Sak-hong and his wife, and retired from the track in 2001.

An owner of more than 30 racehorses, Lau said his best memory of his favourite horse was its win of Japan's Yasuda Kinen in 2000 when Fairy King Prawn became the first Hong Kong-owned racehorse to taste top-flight success overseas.

'At that time I was overjoyed and so moved by its never-give-up spirit,' he said.

A farewell for the 15-year-old gelding - an age equivalent to 60 for a human - will be held at the Hong Kong Jockey Club's Tuen Mun Public Riding School next Sunday.

Visitors will be able to collect a souvenir card with Fairy King Prawn's unique horseshoe stamp.

Lau said Fairy King Prawn was the most obedient and spirited horse he could recall, and it was an attention-seeker who always acted like a movie star posing for cameras.

Fairy King Prawn achieved 12 wins and 10 second placings in 31/2 years, claiming HK$37.7 million in prize money. These efforts were rewarded with a 2001 international rating of 119, making it the first Hong Kong-owned horse to achieve international champion status.

It was crowned Hong Kong horse of the year in 2000 and 2001, as well as taking out the fans' vote as the city's most popular horse in the same years.

Fairy King Prawn was retired after trouncing its rivals in the 2001 National Day Cup and has since been helping train beginner riders at the Tuen Mun Public Riding School.

The relocation to New Zealand is to provide a bigger and more comfy place for the old racehorse to live happily and healthily, Lau said.

'For sure I don't want to let go. But I can't be that selfish,' he said. 'Just like your kids, you can't have them around you forever but we have to support them going wherever is best for them. And I treat him as my son.'