Young jockey Alfred Chan Ka-hei admits to feeling nervous ahead of his first day at the races in Hong Kong but he says he would not change it for the world.
The 24-year-old apprentice will take six rides into Sunday’s Sha Tin meeting, with the 10-pound claimer in hot demand.
Chan will ride for four different trainers, including two rides each for his master Frankie Lor Fu-chuen and Caspar Fownes.
Chan – once a promising sailor – only took up riding after seeing an advertisement for the Jockey Club apprentice school on television after finishing high school.
He then spent almost three years in New Zealand and Australia, where he rode a total of 100 winners.
“I like sports and I don’t like sitting in the office so I would rather to do that with my career, it is better than sitting in the office,” he said.
“I am very grateful that I was sent overseas because I learned a lot about horse riding, so I am quite happy with it.
“I am just taking it normal, not trying to give myself too much pressure. I am a little bit nervous, which is good, but not too much as well.”
Starting work for Lor earlier this month, Chan has been shadowing the in-form trainer’s every move.
“I have been doing a lot of normal track riding then I have learned a lot from Frankie [Lor] about how to be a horseman, how to run the stables and how to see any problems the horses may have,” he said.
“I have learned more from him than I did overseas. [But] I learned a lot of the basic rising skills [overseas] and if it wasn’t for those I wouldn’t be able to make it back to Hong Kong today.”
Chan will ride King Opie for Lor in the Class Two Tolo Harbour Handicap (1,400m) in what looks to be his best winning chance on the day.
The four-year-old has won four times this season and has only finished worse than fourth once in eight starts.
While he would normally be required to carry 117 pounds under handicap conditions, King Opie will carry just 107 pounds thanks to Chan’s apprentice claim.
With Lor earlier revealing he would look to exploit Chan’s 10-pound claim by placing him on “easy” front-running horses, King Opie looks to fit the bill.
“He is a pretty quiet horse and is easy to control. He is in great order, plus we get 10 pounds less, so he will only have 107 on his back,” Chan said.
“The draw is not too bad, in the middle which is what I was hoping. It’s much better than drawing wide. He is very quiet and very easy to control.”
Chan will also ride the lightly raced Blooming Spirit for Lor in the Class Four CUHK Alumni Cup (1,400m).
His first ride in Hong Kong will come on the Fownes-trained Best Effort in the Class Five Kat O Hoi Handicap (1,600m).