Matthew Chadwick was the good-news story. One of the few missing stitches in the tapestry of Hong Kong racing has been the lack of a star the locals can call their own and it's been that way since Tony Cruz's retirement from the saddle more than a decade ago. Chadwick promises to singularly fix that. He is a phenomenon, combining tons of natural ability with a focus and a hunger that is rare at any age, let alone in a 19-year-old. Most apprentices are little more than shooting comets. If they can ride well, they get a rush of opportunity while they claim their 10-pound allowance and the better ones don't slow down when the claim is reduced to seven. But as their claim gets trimmed, so do their opportunities and they are soon shown up when competing against the top-line jockeys on equal terms. Chadwick promises to be something different. Although he has a British name, he is in fact Chinese, the adopted son of French International School principal Chris Chadwick and his wife, Jenny (also a teacher). His education has therefore been at a different level to most apprentice jockeys and it shows. He kicked a big goal by being allocated to Cruz, who is passionate about giving the fans another home-grown champion. But when you cut away all the wrappings, the bottom line is that Chadwick's a huge talent. He rode a winner and a placegetter from three rides on his first day out, on December 20, and soared to third spot on the premiership, only to be relegated to fourth on the final day when Zac Purton snared a treble. His 43 wins - an apprentice record - have been achieved from just 281 rides, at a strike rate of 15.3 per cent. Among the full-time jockeys, only Douglas Whyte owns a stronger one (16.1 per cent). But how about this statistic - Chadwick's ratio of winners to seconds is the best of any of the top-10 jockeys, strong evidence he answers to no one when it comes down to a tight finish. Cruz was six-times champion jockey and the all-time record holder for wins (946) until Whyte sailed on by in December 2007. Cruz also earned a stint as retained jockey for the Aga Khan in Europe and was one of Hong Kong's first international ambassadors. Whatever the future holds for Chadwick, it's exciting to have someone who has earned the right to be talked about as 'the next Tony Cruz'.