Star Australian jockey Blake Shinn and South African young gun Lyle Hewitson are joining the Hong Kong riding ranks.
The Jockey Club licensing committee made the announcement on Thursday as it confirmed the roster for next season – headlined by Zac Purton and the full-time return of Joao Moreira.
Shinn, 31, has collected almost 1,600 winners in Australia – including the 2008 Melbourne Cup on Viewed – and gets his opportunity after making a successful comeback from a broken neck he suffered in August.
He has 21 Group One wins on his resume and has been on fire since his return, with 53 winners this season at a strike rate of almost 21 per cent. Shinn has a minimum riding weight of 121 pounds.
“Hong Kong is one of the premier racing jurisdictions, and from the time I started riding it has been an ambition of mine to ride in one of the world’s most competitive racing environments,” Shinn said in a statement.
“I would like to place on record my gratitude to the [Jockey Club’s] licensing committee for giving me the opportunity to fulfil this dream.
“I will be forever grateful to the people who have supported me throughout my career to get me to this point where I have been afforded this opportunity to ride in Hong Kong.”
Hewitson is one of the rising stars of the South African racing scene, winning last season’s championship with 184 winners, and he is chasing back-to-back titles this term.
The 21-year-old has five Group One winners to his credit and can ride at 115 pounds.
“Blake is an exceptional jockey with the world at his feet and his addition, along with Lyle Hewitson, will mean that the 2019-20 season shapes as a fascinating contest,” Jockey Club executive director of racing Andrew Harding said.
Moreira has spent the past six months as John Size’s stable-retained rider after failing to secure a full-time licence in Japan, but is now back as a club jockey for the upcoming season.
He joins Purton, Umberto Rispoli, Chad Schofield, Karis Teetan and Grant van Niekerk as riders to be licensed for the entire 2019-20 term.
Neil Callan and Aldo Domeyer have been granted licences until February 29 – the same period of time that Shinn and Hewitson have been given.
Regan Bayliss and Alberto Sanna have also been given short-term commitments until December 31, but Irishman Martin Harley misses out.
From a local jockey perspective, the only change is Alvin Ng Ka-chun, who will retire at the end of the season.
Alex Lai Hoi-wing, who hasn’t ridden since a fall in September 2017, retains his spot as a freelance jockey with the hope he will be able to return for the start of the season after complications from a wrist injury.
There are no new additions to the apprentice ranks with the Jockey Club to reassess the situation in the second half of the season.
The only change to the training roster is the addition of 13-time champion Douglas Whyte, which was announced in January.