The million-dollar question for Irish jockey John Egan is how to improve on a debut season that brought him rave reviews, more than 50 winners and stretched that constant smile a little wider. 'Look, I was very pleased with how I went,' Egan said yesterday. 'Really I was. But you always need to improve just to stay where you are.' Egan won 51 of his 512 rides, a smooth 10 per cent strike rate which was consistent from the opening weeks of the season. While Egan did enjoy a strong connection with John Moore's stable - 19 of his winners coming from 73 rides for that yard - he also enjoyed good strike rates with Ricky Yiu Poon-fie and Brian Kan Ping-chee, and was one of only a couple of jockeys to have mounts for virtually every stable. Egan won for 13 different trainers and had rides for 24 of the 25 trainers, reflecting his work ethic and easy-going nature and auguring well for his intention to consolidate on the great start. 'I try to ride for everyone, but obviously the mornings aren't long enough to do that every day,' Egan said. 'The reality is that you have between about 5am and 7am when virtually all the horses are worked and I think I can probably ride four an hour and do it properly. I can't do more than that. It's important to take your time here, keep the horses relaxed, so in the long term, it's better for them if you don't rush them out or rush them back in.' Egan's love affair with race riding was more of a flirtation during the summer, with just 25 rides at a few feature meetings in Ireland and eastern Europe, but he wasn't about to let go altogether. 'I didn't really want to do nothing for three months, I'd go mad. I rode to keep my hand in, to keep fit and because I like riding,' he said. 'At the same time I didn't do a lot, probably about 25 rides was all. There were a few feature meetings in Ireland and I rode in Prague and Bratislava, which was nice experience and I managed to win the Czech Derby.' If there was a piece missing from Egan's opening Hong Kong season, it was at the very top level. Although he did win at Group Two and Three, a Group One remained an untamed peak. Does he have a horse to lift him there this year? Perhaps. Egan was fortunate enough to be associated with the outstanding young dasher Winning Counter last season and is expecting big things from the four-year-old. 'I've been riding him in his work and I think he's a lot stronger this season,' Egan said. 'He's put on weight and I'm happy with the progress he has made. He has already been a good horse and he could be something very good now that he has grown older and stronger.' Moore also provided Egan with a couple of feature sprint wins on the smart Triple Expresso, who looks to have returned well, judging by a barrier trial win at the Preseason Carnival on Saturday night at Sha Tin. 'I was delighted with Triple Expresso's trial on Saturday,' Egan said. 'He looks to have made some progress in the break physically. And he is very happy in himself and that's a good thing.' Besides the prospect of a topline contender, Egan believes that there is room for natural advancement in his own performance just on the basis of experience of Hong Kong racing. 'I know more about the place. This time last year I was a long way behind,' Egan said. 'So I think I can improve on that score. I think it looks even tougher this year, the jockeys are very strong. So I'm going into this season the same as I went into the last one - with my head down and working hard and hoping I can get better.' Egan sees the first part of the season as a key time for everyone, sorting out the form players from those with a long season ahead. 'You need those early wins to get you going,' he said. 'I was lucky last year because John Moore and Peter Chapple-Hyam, in particular, were happy to put me on and give me a chance. As for this season, you never really know how it will look until a few weeks have gone and you see who is riding for which trainer and which trainers are going well.'