STEVE Cauthen last night declared himself ready to ride in Hongkong next season if the right offer was made - and that could come from local trainer Derek Cruz. Speaking from his Walton, Kentucky home, Cauthen said: ''I quit English racing because they were not prepared to pay me what I considered the right amount. ''I wouldn't mind riding again and I am fit. I have been riding out here every morning and I will not let myself go. ''I like Hongkong and the lifestyle is good. You ride work in the morning and there is plenty of time to enjoy the family and a round or two of golf,'' said Cauthen, who has spoken unofficially to the Jockey Club. And yesterday Cruz, whose dramatic split with brother Tony last month left him with a stable of 60 horses and no jockey, cautiously came into the scenario. He said: ''I think Steve Cauthen is a very, very good jockey and if he is genuinely interested in riding here then I am interested. ''I am talking things over with my owners right now and I must have a top class jockey for next season. I know that and so do my owners,'' he said. Cauthen had been expected to officially announce his retirement after the decision to split with Sheik Mohammed but has withheld doing so. Hongkong is the one racing centre in the world that directly appeals to Cauthen - and the only one that could afford him. Cauthen and wife Amy are currently awaiting the birth of their first child in May and the former British champion jockey will not move from America before that. But he said: ''I would prefer to start riding again in August, that would be perfect for me. ''But if I came to Hongkong it would be to a stable and a retainer, not as a Club rider for the Jockey Club,'' he stressed. Cauthen, winner of the Epsom Derby twice, is fully conversant with the Hongkong racing picture - plus the licensing arrangements here. And he has ridden with success in Hongkong before - on short winter stints that brought winners for former champion trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee, who was first approached on behalf of Cauthen. But with virtually all leading stables fixed up in relation to jockeys it leaves Derek Cruz as a logical contender for his services.