Alfred Chan Ka-hei continued his late-season resurgence with victory aboard the Caspar Fownes-trained Joy Master at Sha Tin on Thursday, with the 27-year-old thanking his boss for rebuilding his confidence in the saddle.
Chan, who could only manage one winner across the first six and a half months of the season, was transferred from Frankie Lor Fu-chuen to Fownes in January and now has six winners since mid-March.
“It was a hard time earlier this season but since I moved to Caspar he’s given me a lot of confidence and he’s helped me a lot,” said Chan, who was left questioning whether he had what it took to be a jockey earlier this season.
“The biggest thing is the confidence – my boss keeps telling me that it doesn’t matter if you’re riding a good horse or a bad horse or whether it can win, just ride your own race and just be confident. He’s supporting me a lot and I’m riding with more confidence now.”
Chan’s new-found conviction was on full display aboard Joy Master, with the jockey snagging the galloper back to the rear of the field from gate 14 before patiently weaving a path in the home straight.
It was Chan’s second win aboard the six-year-old in the space of 12 days and Fownes was full of credit for his charge.
“It was a very good ride by young Alfred, he learned a lot from the last time he rode the horse and today we had a wide gate, he took him back and rode a beautiful race so he deserves a lot of credit,” Fownes said.
“I’m glad things are starting to come on nicely for the young boy and I hope some more trainers can give him some opportunities next season because he’s got the ability to do well. I’m very happy and proud of him, he deserves it.
“I’ve just tried to give him confidence. He had become a very dejected young lad and like anything in life, we all take knocks and have bad times but you need someone to guide you through that and give you a bit of confidence.
“I’ve tried to do that with him. Hong Kong’s a funny place, if you’re not doing well people don’t want a bar of you but if he can get some winners rolling, all of a sudden people want to have a piece of you. He’s a good, hardworking kid and he deserves a lot more success.”
Chan finishes his apprenticeship at the end of this season and will return in 2021-22 as a freelance jockey, although his seven-pound claim will remain in place.
“I’m just hoping I can get more chances from the other trainers,” the jockey said. “I’m 27 now and it’s been six years of my apprenticeship since my first day riding in New Zealand.”
Fownes completed an early race-to-race double with Telecom Missile’s victory in the second event, moving eight winners clear of his nearest rival John Size in the race for the trainers’ title with four meetings remaining in the campaign.