The intensity of competition, a hallmark of Hong Kong racing, was keenly evident in last season’s fierce battle for the trainers’ premiership which, ultimately, went to Ricky Yiu for the first time, and the 2020/21 racing season promises to be just as combative.
Yiu’s narrow win (with 67 wins) from the evergreen Tony Cruz (65) and Francis Lui (63), who like Yiu had not finished in the top 10 in the previous season, signalled something of a changing landscape within the training ranks which will be further refashioned in 2020/21 with former champion David Hayes returning and John Moore having retired.
The likely advance of relative newcomers Frankie Lor and Douglas Whyte, the arrival of Hayes and the prospect of Lui maintaining his 2019/20 momentum after being allocated (along with Hayes, Whyte and David Hall) stables at Conghua certainly adds spice to the impending racing season.
None of this, of course, necessarily spells the end for 11-time champion John Size – who’d won the premiership four years straight from 2015/16 – and nor is it likely that Yiu, Cruz, Caspar Fownes and Danny Shum will not be as competitive as ever.
However, it is likely the competition will again be tight at the top given that just 10 wins separated the top four last season and that anything can happen given Yiu’s jump from 15th on the table in 2018/19 to champion last season – a rapid year to year ascension and jammed leaderboard rarely seen in other jurisdictions.