Horse-racing presenter wants to be Hong Kong's first female caller
Li Kit-ying is one of Hong Kong's few female horse-racing commentators - and the youngest - but she wants to go further.
The 30-year-old wants to break into the male-dominated front line as a race caller, describing the action live from the track.
Li, popularly known as Ah Kit, started as a commentator in 2004 after coming in third in a broadcasting competition. She later quit to become a flight attendant, but couldn't stay away from the track and is now a horse-racing presenter with ATV Asia.
She plans to start calling trackwork and barrier trials first to see if the audience likes it.
"In Hong Kong, male horse-racing callers are more welcome … Maybe the audience, mostly men, think female voices are ear-splitting," she said. "But I think if we can accept female presenters to comment on live football matches now … there will soon be a female horse-racing caller."
Li got her first taste of horse-racing in primary school when she helped her father jot down race results when he was out of town. "I thought it was very exciting as the results were out in just a minute," she said. "I started seeing if I could guess the results, and I could. I felt very successful and kept on with it thereafter."
After her success in the 2004 competition, she worked as a part-time horse-racing commentator in private boxes. Her debut at Ladies' Purse Day that year was not well-received. "My audience thought I was just a little girl and didn't think I had the experience or qualifications to be a commentator," she said.
Disappointed after two years of part-time work without any career advancement, she quit to work as a flight attendant.
"But still, I couldn't get over it," she said. "When I was overseas, I went online to listen to live racing commentaries."
After two years, Li realised she really loved horse-racing and decided to return.
"I'd thought of becoming a programme host instead of rejoining the industry. At least people wouldn't judge what I said like they did when I presented my racing analyses," she said.
But eventually, she returned as a horse-racing presenter and football commentator with i-Cable TV in 2008.
She said she now felt more accepted by her audience as they were moved by her "wholeheartedly done analyses". She spends at least five hours preparing the day before any meeting and does thorough post-race analyses.
"I don't mind asking everyone - from jockeys to trainers - to teach me so that I can improve."