Australia's 'Mr Fix-It' aims to seize his chance in HK
Australian jockey Tim Clark hopes his reputation as the 'pinch hitter' of Sydney racing can help him gain a foothold in the similarly competitive Hong Kong riding ranks when he makes his debut next month.
Clark, 25, (pictured) was introduced yesterday by the Jockey Club as the newest jockey to be licensed for the season, starting on September 11.
Despite not being a retained rider for a major stable, Clark rocketed from 10th in the Sydney premiership two years ago, to third in a breakout 2010-11.
Clark has forged a career in Sydney, making the most of opportunities when trainers' No1 choices are indisposed through injury or suspension, gaining the nickname 'Mr Fix-It' from the Australian media.
'I just filled in the gaps when trainers needed someone to ride their horse, knowing I might not be on it next time or down the track,' he said.
'You've got three leading stables in Sydney and if you don't ride for one of them, it's pretty hard to fight for the other rides.
'I wasn't riding for them all the time, but when someone was away, I was the jockey called up and I was fortunate enough to, most of the time, get the job done.'
Gaining plum rides won't be any easier for Clark in Hong Kong, where top chances for new jockeys can be sporadic at best.
Maintaining his status as a reliable go-to man will be critical in an arena dominated by established stars Douglas Whyte and Brett Prebble.
Clark arrived last Thursday, hoping to gain a jump on his rivals through riding work and networking.
He will be joined by wife Jayde and 14-month-old daughter Ellie before the season opener, where he is hoping for around six rides.
Another plus for Clark is his ability to ride light - he plans to get down to 115 pounds (52kg) - which could see him gain mounts the heavier veterans might pass up.
Clark's career highlight came in April this year when he snared a Group One double in the space of 40 minutes at Royal Randwick.
But he is perhaps best known for his association with outstanding former mare Hot Danish, who he partnered to 14 victories, including two Group Ones.
Performances like these caught the eye of the licensing committee, whose secretary Steve Railton likened Clark to fellow Aussie Tye Angland.
'Tim was the ideal candidate,' Railton said. 'He is a young fellow on the rise who has had good group success and rides light. The club is very confident he will do well.'