Champion expatriate jockey Brett Prebble believes he was born to be in horse racing. With a father who was a career jockey, the Australian was on the back of a pony by the age of five and took up an apprenticeship with a Melbourne trainer introduced by his father as soon as the education system would release him at the age of 15. 'I'm a natural jockey. I couldn't wait to get out of school and start training to be one,' he said. And it would be difficult to disagree. After a two-year apprenticeship he became a fully licensed jockey and is now widely recognised as one of the world's most gifted riders. He is ranked fifth in the current season in Hong Kong with winnings of more than HK$9 million. Prebble came to Hong Kong in 2002. He said it was an easy decision as Hong Kong was the riding stage for the world's best jockeys. 'It is the hardest place to succeed,' he said. 'I've seen many come and many fail. But the ones who are at the top of their game get the momentum. Other than that, Hong Kong has good tax benefits and travel is so convenient. In Australia, we have to drive for a long time to get to the training grounds and the race courses.' Many will remember Prebble for winning last year's Champions Mile on Bullish Luck, when he finally brought an end to a streak of 18 victories for crowd-favourite Silent Witness. The pair also enjoyed success in this year's Champions Mile, as well as the Yasuda Kinen in Japan. Winning those two legs of the Asian Mile Challenge earned a US$1 million bonus for Bullish Luck. Prebble said the Yasuda Kinen was the 'big one' but modestly suggested that luck played a part. For all the success he is now enjoying, he still recalls his first win, on White on Me, in Australia, in 1993. 'I was hoping to win but wasn't expecting to. I had never won any races so I hadn't got the feel of it. It was an important day in my life and I have never forgotten it.' A successful career aside, another important gift racing gave Prebble was the chance to meet his wife, Maree, who hails from one Australia's most well-known racing family, the Payne clan. Once a jockey herself, Maree has six siblings who are all licensed riders, including former champion jockey Patrick Payne, who used to ride in Hong Kong. Maree and Brett have two children, Thomas, four, and Georgia, two. 'My family is very supportive of my career. Maree understands everything about my work. Sometimes I get a bit moody and she always handles me well,' Prebble said. He isn't too worried whether his children become jockeys. 'I definitely won't push them to be jockeys,' he said. 'I'd rather have them choosing other paths. My brother isn't a jockey. He's too big to be one. But he's doing really well with his business. As a father, I'd say being a jockey is a great business but is too dangerous an occupation. But if they choose to be a jockey, I will support them just the same and will help them in any way I can.' Part of his reluctance may be due to the fact that he has witnessed so many accidents. Prebble himself has suffered three bad injuries. 'Pretty much every part of my body has been broken,' he said. 'I'm lucky that I've recovered. But not all jockeys are this lucky. I know a jockey who was just starting out when he had an accident and ended up in a coma.' Despite the dangers, Prebble loves horses. 'Horses have a mind of their own,' he said. 'I respect them to a certain level but, as a jockey, never too much. The horses I work with are trained to race and nothing else. You can't let them do whatever they want.' Having said that, Prebble acknowledges the strong bonds that are often formed between jockey and rider. Prebble admits he was once emotionally attached to a horse called Black Bean, and became really depressed when the horse was destroyed after breaking its leg in a race. When asked what he thought he would be doing if he was not a jockey, he thought for a long time before saying: 'I really don't know'. Perhaps when you are a natural born rider, there is simply no alternative.