Vincent Ho will take on some of the world’s best this week with a full book in Sunday’s Group 1 races and is slated for Wednesday’s (4 December) LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship as the highest-flying ‘homegrown’ talent in the Hong Kong riding ranks.
Ho is a graduate of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Apprentice Jockeys’ School, an institution which provides young Hong Kongers with a pathway to a career in racing. It sends its most adept prospective hoops to race-ride in Australia and New Zealand before affording the best an opportunity to compete as 10lb claimers on one of the world’s toughest circuits.
Ho, who made his first IJC appearance in 2014 and was third last year, is one of nine Jockeys’ School alumni to have ridden at the event, first staged in 1998 when the Jockey Club, presumably mindful of its rider development, included a provision for graduates to participate alongside the world’s greats. Eddy Lai and Alex Yu made the first line-up, nowadays there is one berth open to ‘the local boys’.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to learn, because the best jockeys in the world come to the IJC,” Ho says in his usual modest manner as he prepares for one of the flashiest nights in world racing. “I’ve still got plenty to improve and Hong Kong is a place where you can’t make any mistake if you want a ride to be a winner.”
The apprentice school’s alumni have populated the riding ranks ever since the first cohort graduated in the early 1970s, led by one Tony Cruz, exceptional champion jockey, champion trainer and all-round living legend of the Hong Kong scene.