LEADING Irish rider Kevin Manning is the surprise new stable jockey for Stephen Leung. Crack American rider, Corey Black, had promised his services to the emerging local handler having sprung to prominence in the territory when scoring on Glen Kate in the International Bowl two years ago. But Black changed his mind at the 11th hour, leaving Leung to turn to the country where he has found so many of his better horses - Ireland. Manning rides for Jim Bolger, the only Irish trainer who can seriously rival Dermot Weld. Manning said: 'It is a big step to leave, but riding as a stable jockey in Hong Kong has to be top of the list of any jockey's ambitions. 'I've had a number of good long chats with Stephen who has made a big impact in Hong Kong in just two seasons and am very much looking forward to the challenge ahead. 'There are some nice young horses in his yard and it's a stable that is very much going forward. 'I think Stephen and I can go forward together and I will be working as hard as I can to help us achieve this.' Manning leaves Ireland very much on the crest of a wave. He was yet again in double form at the prestigious Leopardstown Group One Heinz 57 Pheonix Stakes meeting last Sunday, taking the opening event on Zampa and the Group Three Pheonix Sprint Stakes on Bolger's classy Desert Style. Leung said: 'I always wanted Black, but his wife is pregnant and the doctor advised the couple that the baby should not endure such long-distance flying. 'They have lost two babies [by miscarriage] and they preferred not to take the risk of coming here. 'I had to find another jockey and I was very lucky to recruit Manning who is quite willing to help and has promised to come. His application has been approved. 'Last season he was runner-up in the Irish Championship to Mick Kinane. He is 27 and married with one child and is the type of jockey who would suit Hong Kong racing as he is young and energetic. 'I had no doubts about him so I signed him without really thinking it over.' Leung said it was highly unlikely that racing idol Gary Stevens, the American jockey who caused such a sensation last season with his top-class riding, would return to the territory.