Chui hopes for fresh start Down Under
Disqualified jockey Marco Chui Kwan-lai will move to Australia this weekend in an attempt to pick up the pieces of his shattered career after he was banned from riding in Hong Kong for a series of ketamine-related charges.
Chui has targeted the Western Australian capital of Perth as the place to rejuvenate his stalled career in the saddle, but must undergo a drug rehabilitation course before applying for his licence.
The 24-year-old was refused a licence to ride in Hong Kong in January, when returning from a 12-month disqualification for ketamine use.
Chui had a poor record with the prohibited substance - he was banned for six months after testing positive in May 2009 - and his latest positive on January 20, 2010, came only two months after he finished serving the six-month sentence he received for the initial offence.
Chui was champion apprentice in the 2007-08 season, but after finishing his apprenticeship he struggled to build momentum as his career was continually hampered by suspensions.
'I am still full of passion for riding, and I would still love to ride in races, so I hope I can start my new career in Australia and get a second chance,' Chui said.
Chui will fly to Perth on Sunday and is aware of the big challenges he will face to get back to the winner's stall.
'When I first get there I have to take some drug lessons before I can apply for a licence,' he said. 'In that time I may have to do something else, but I hope I can do well, get my licence in Perth, and then after a while I might have the option to ride somewhere else.'
David Hensler, chief steward of Perth Racing, said he hadn't spoken to Chui yet, but had been passing the relevant information for his application through an intermediary.
'We are aware that Marco has had issues in Hong Kong regarding prohibited substances, and given the fact that he has been a repeat offender there are some extra hoops for him to jump through,' Hensler said.
'After a second drug-use offence here, we usually require the jockey to undergo some form of drug counselling, and once Marco can provide evidence to us that he has undertaken the appropriate rehabilitation, we will certainly look upon his application more favourably.'
Hensler is also hopeful a change of scenery might help Chui break the cycle which saw him crash from the heights of champion apprentice to the lows of ketamine suspensions during his short career.
'As long as Marco is switched on and makes the most of his opportunity I think the change of environment should be a positive for him to help break out of his former lifestyle,' Hensler said.
'Ketamine is rarely heard of as a recreational substance in Perth, but there are other possible pitfalls for jockeys wherever they are, and it will be up to Marco as to how well he does when he arrives.'