Karis Teetan is in career-best form as he heads into a week of Hong Kong racing as the number one jockey, with Zac Purton suspended for two meetings.
The Mauritian, who is into his sixth season in Hong Kong, admits he made a lot of mistakes early in his time here but has finally found what works for him after watching a number of different jockeys over his time.
Teetan has a chance to go atop of the jockeys’ premiership over the next two meetings, currently sitting just three wins off Purton in the standings and boasting a full book of 10 rides for Sunday at Happy Valley.
The landscape looks different to usual this weekend with a total of five riders out on enforced holidays after receiving suspensions from the stewards. On top of that, Alvin Ng Ka-chun is sidelined because of an ankle injury sustained during trackwork on Saturday morning.
After years of sitting below Purton and Joao Moreira in the pecking order, Teetan has finally got his opportunity this season, pushing Purton in the jockeys’ premiership each week, including a day out at Sha Tin earlier this month with a career-best five winners.
“I have been here for a long time, for the first few years I made a lot of mistakes and I have tried to learn from whatever I have done wrong,” Teetan said.
“Even just watching Zac [Purton] and Joao [Moreira], when he was here, just watching them ride and what they were doing right.
“I am trying not to think that far ahead yet, but of course it would be nice to be in a handy position with the championship all the time. If I am riding some winners and I am close to Zac, I am really happy.
“Also, it’s just the horses underneath you, it’s taken me a while to make good connections with the trainers and of course now that Joao is not here, I have got a few good opportunities so I really feel good and I hope it keeps going.”
Teetan will go into Sunday’s meeting with strong winning chances on Gunnison and Chaparral Star, as well as a number of other horses who are set to be in the market.
The John Size-trained Gunnison came to Hong Kong with big expectations after having just two starts in Australia, which included a Group Two victory in the Todman Stakes as a two-year-old.
However, Size has been patient with his gelding, which is one of the few horses in Hong Kong to weigh in under 1,000 pounds.
“He does give you a good feel when you ride him, he is very small but he has got a beautiful action on him,” Teetan said.
“I think he is the type of horse that takes a little bit of time to adapt, but this season he feels like he is stronger and mentally he is better, so I am really looking forward to riding him.
He comes out of a first-up run at Happy Valley over 1,000m where he was forced to go back and attempt to run on.
History suggests the four-year-old will be more comfortable on Sunday, racing in the Class Two Chai Wan Kok Handicap over 1,200m.
“I think it was a good run, the 1,000m was a bit short for him, he came out of a good draw and couldn’t keep a better position, so he flew home pretty late,” Teetan said.
“I think stepping up to the 1,200m where he has been before and done better over that distance, everything is going in the right direction for him.”
While he is comfortable to be on Gunnison, Teetan will run into a familiar foe in Super Hoppy, who he rode last season before the horse went on a three-win streak after changing trainers from Manfred Man Ka-leung to Danny Shum Chap-shing.
“I think when I was riding Super Hoppy, I don’t think he was at this stage yet, he was only getting there but of course his last win was very good so you have to respect him,” he said.