Yeung overcomes adversity to out-ride claim
The lessons learnt in a sometimes tumultuous apprenticeship and the agonising experience of being stuck one win short of out-riding his claim will serve Keith Yeung Ming-Lung well into the future, according to former boss Almond Lee.
Yeung saluted on the Lee-trained Nicku to bring up 70 wins and then celebrated by making it a double on Wrath Of Fire, before climbing out of an ambulance to snatch a dramatic Jockey Challenge with a placing in the last at Sha Tin.
The 23-year-old had been stuck one win short of the milestone for 36 winless rides before a drop in class saw Nicku breakthrough. He now becomes a senior rider, marked by a special ceremony yesterday, but can still claim three pounds for another 25 wins.
'He was doing really well right up to 69 wins and then the momentum stopped,' Lee said. 'But I'm happy it happened this way, because this is life. He felt a lot of pain about waiting for that last winner, but I didn't. I said 'son, this is racing'. And I'm happy it went that way, because otherwise he might think it is easy.
'He didn't get to 70 wins easy but he deserves the glory today and I'm happy he won on one of my horses.'
Lee has guided Yeung through an apprenticeship that hasn't been all smooth sailing. High points have been a four-timer at Happy Valley in 2009 and being crowned champion apprentice in the same season.
But interspersed have been charges of misconduct, a warning for talking to rival jockey Ben So Tik-hung at the apprentice's hostel about tactics and spending 27 days sidelined through suspension in one term.
During that abbreviated term, Lee organised for the over-exuberant rider to meet with Douglas Whyte to help curb his sometimes careless style. Proof of Yeung's progress is that he hasn't been suspended since April this year.
'He is a typical Hong Kong kid,' Lee said. 'He is a bit naughty, it's hard for him to concentrate ... but he learns from his mistakes.
'He had caused a lot of trouble in his second and third seasons with his riding, but this season he has become much better and he has become a professional and decent jockey.'
Yeung was beaming after his double, if a little sore, after being dislodged pre-race by You Know I Win before the last.
But the effort to climb off the deck, get a ride to the barriers in the ambulance and then desperately chase the Michael Chang Chun-wai-trained outsider into a placing, to win the Jockey Challenge, was typical of Yeung's rough and ready style.
On-track results aside, Yeung said he was far more grateful for the life-lessons taught to him by Lee.
'Be nice, be humble and keep learning from your mistakes,' he said, still rubbing his back an hour after his fall.
Although he admitted Lee had been a hard taskmaster. 'He has always been very strict on me,' Yeung said. 'He just wanted me to be a good person and was very tough on me, but I appreciate that. Without him I wouldn't be standing here.'
The pounds Keith Yeung can claim after he graduated from his apprenticeship