New instructor Jack Wong becomes first branch of Felix Coetzee’s coaching tree

New instructor Jack Wong becomes first branch of Felix Coetzee’s coaching tree

Retiring rider, who will steer High Rise Soldier at Sha Tin on Saturday, joins the Jockey Club’s Racing Talent Training Centre at the end of this season

Jack Wong Ho-nam will become the first branch of Felix Coetzee’s coaching tree when the 29-year-old retires from race riding next month and starts instructing at the Jockey Club’s Racing Talent Training Centre.

Wong, whom Francis Lui Kin-wai has booked to steer High Rise Soldier in Saturday’s Class Three Riding High Together Handicap (1,000m) at Sha Tin, has won 125 races – 89 in Hong Kong and 36 in New Zealand – since being a pupil in Coetzee’s initial class.

“I’m from the first batch of people Felix taught,” said Wong, who joined the Jockey Club’s Apprentice Jockeys’ School in 2009. “In my new role, he’ll guide me again. Then we’ll teach the young ones together.”

With just one win from only 110 rides this season – he was victorious aboard Pierre Ng Pang-chi’s Happy Fat Cat at Sha Tin on October 26 – Wong realised his days as a licensed jockey in Hong Kong were almost over. However, he also knew he wanted to remain in racing.

It’s something I’d been thinking about over the year, not just recently,” Wong said. “Ever since I’d been back riding – I was out for eight months through injury – many thoughts went through my head.

“Whenever I shared skills with trainees, I felt good. I enjoyed doing it. I got satisfaction from it. So I approached the Jockey Club about the position, and it’s happy for me to instruct other trainees.”

Happy is an understatement. Jockey Club executive director of racing Andrew Harding thinks Wong is the ideal addition to the Racing Talent Training Centre.

“It’s a phenomenon around the world that, over time, jockeys leave their careers in race riding to pursue other opportunities. It’s inevitable,” Harding said.

It’s very important to the club we prepare the jockeys we’ve trained for those other careers.

“That’s why I’m delighted that, through the work of the head of our Racing Talent Training Centre, we have a memorandum of understanding with the Education University of Hong Kong for our jockeys who complete the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications-recognised Certificate IV course we deliver, the university will articulate it into a Bachelor of Health Education.

“It’s a credit to Jack that he’s already in the first year of his degree. This degree will help him in the next stage of his career, which will be as a senior instructor with the Racing Talent Training Centre.

“I can’t think of anyone who’s come through our programme better suited to become a senior instructor with the Racing Talent Training Centre than Jack.

Jack has always distinguished himself with his conduct in the room. He understands race riding. His interpretation of a race is flawless. He’s a thinker. He’s a man with character, maturity and a great sense of morals. He’s the perfect person to act as a senior instructor with the Racing Talent Training Centre.”

Asked to nominate the favourite of his nearly 2,500 race rides in Hong Kong, Wong picked his triumphant steer of Class Five galloper Exponents for his then master, Me Tsui Yu-sak, at Sha Tin on June 10, 2018.

A few things happened on that day,” Wong said. “It was my 70th win, so I graduated, and there was a big celebration of another lifetime moment. It’s a big change going from an apprentice jockey to a senior because then you have to do everything yourself.

“Also, I’d done most of the work on Exponents. My hard work paid off and showed people what I can do.”

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