The Hong Kong Jockey Club (the Club) staged the Apprentice Jockeys’ School (AJS) 50th Anniversary Race Day at Sha Tin Racecourse today (5 June) to commemorate the milestone anniversary of the AJS and its contribution to nurturing Hong Kong horse racing talents over the past 50 years. The feature race, AJS 50th Anniversary Cup (Class 3 1200m) was won by the Douglas Whyte trained Ace One under jockey Ruan Maia.
With the AJS entering its 50th anniversary, the Racing Development Board (RDB) is also rebranded as the Racing Talent Training Centre (RTTC) with two schools under it, the AJS and the Racing Talent School (RTS). While the AJS will continue provide riding training, the RTS will provide skills specific training for non-riding professionals, e.g. stable assistants, assistant trainer, farrier and more.
As a professional teaching institution, the rebranded RTTC will connect with the Mainland and Hong Kong communities to identify and nurture racing talents. Since 2008, over 1,800 staff and trainees have completed certificate courses at the AJS.
Prior to the race meeting this afternoon, there was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremony with The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK), The Hong Kong Association of Sports Medicine and Sports Science (HKASMSS) and Guangdong Vocational Institute of Sports (GDVIS), driving future plans for training and developing racing talents in the Mainland and Hong Kong through various new initiatives aimed at delivering excellence in training.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said, “Hong Kong is a global leader in thoroughbred racing, with world-class trainers, jockeys and horses and a fan base of millions around the world. This achievement is the work of decades and would not have been possible without the contribution of our Apprentice Jockeys’ School in producing world-class talent.”
“The Apprentice Jockeys’ School has not only produced world-class riders, but individuals who have gone on to make an outstanding contribution to Hong Kong racing as trainers, assistant trainers, head lads, and in many other roles besides.”
“Now we are taking another important step forward with the creation of the Racing Talent Training Centre, which will play a major role not only in Hong Kong but also in the Greater Bay Area and in developing a national equine industry in the Mainland,”
Club’s Executive Director of Racing Andrew Harding added that AJS has been the backbone of Hong Kong racing since its establishment, “It is particularly gratifying to be celebrating this Anniversary in 2022 as we are embarking on the next chapter of providing a wider variety of learning opportunities through RTTC. This new development aims to create a bigger impact in talent development through classroom based learning and practical experience.”
“Looking ahead, I am excited that the schools will have another breakthrough with the introduction of a conducive learning facilities. Through the signing of MOU with EdUHK, HKASMSS and GDVIS, we will establish a historical advancement and further enhance the practical ability of the schools’ studies.”
MOU signing to enhance nurturing of racing talents
The Club hopes to provide opportunities for current and retiring jockeys to further their studies and personal development. The MOU between the Club and EdUHK allows nominated jockeys to apply for the Bachelor of Health Education (Honours) with a flexible admission mechanism. This aims to provide continuing education opportunities for elite athletes, creating a solid foundation for career development after retirement.
EdUHK President Professor Stephen Cheung said, “Like all professional athletes, jockeys possess the much-valued attributes of commitment, perseverance and self-enhancement. Under the new agreement with the Club, we are pleased to provide jockeys with university education, which enables them to open up multiple pathways while continuing their training and racing commitments.”
Under the MOU signed between the Club and HKASMSS, medical support, fitness monitoring and sport psychology counselling services will be provided to the trainees. It is anticipated with the help of HKASMSS, the performance of racing trainees and effectiveness of training will be improved. Both parties will collaborate in organising workshops, seminars, and educational activities to promote racing medicine and science as well as the international racing industry.
President of the HKASMSS Professor Patrick Yung said, “In the modern world of horse racing, everything is so competitive and demanding absolute “Professionalism”. Application of Sports Medicine & Sports Science knowledge in this sport has also been increasing over the past decade. Starting from initial focus on treatment of injuries of the jockey, gradually expanding to apply the knowledge & skills in training, in prevention of injuries as well to improve the performance of jockeys.”
The Strategic Cooperation Framework Agreement between the Club and GDVIS includes racing talent identification and recruitment, internship for adult students and the establishment of a Professional Sports Training Course (Horse Racing) for suitable candidates. This collaboration aims to nurture quality apprentice jockeys and racing talents in the future.
Principal of GDVIS Xu Ji said, “With the enhanced working relationship with the Club and through their expertise in developing racing talents, we aim at providing world-class industry-oriented education for suitable candidates, equipping them with practical and integrated racing and management skill to support the future development of equine industry in the Mainland.”
Over the years since AJS was established in 1972, a long list of well talented home-grown jockeys, such as Matthew Chadwick, Vincent Ho, Derek Leung, Matthew Poon and Keith Yeung have received training there. Many successful graduates have even gone on becoming top class trainers in the industry, including legendary jockey-turned-trainer Tony Cruz, Frankie Lor, Danny Shum and Ricky Yiu. All of them have excelled in the sport and have advanced Hong Kong racing’s reputation worldwide.
The feature race, the Class AJS 50th Anniversary Cup was won by the Douglas Whyte trained Ace One under jockey Ruan Maia. Chairman of The Hong Kong Jockey Club Philip Chen presented the trophies to Owner representatives, Trainer and Jockey immediately after the race.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club
Founded in 1884, The Hong Kong Jockey Club is a world-class racing club that acts continuously for the betterment of our society. The Club has a unique integrated business model, comprising racing and racecourse entertainment, a membership club, responsible sports wagering and lottery, and charities and community contribution. Through this model, the Club generates economic and social value for the community and supports the Government in combatting illegal gambling. In 2020/21, the Club returned a total of HK$29.4 billion to the community. This included HK$24.9 billion to the Government in duty, profits tax and Lotteries Fund contributions and HK$4.5 billion in approved charity donations. The Club is Hong Kong’s largest single taxpayer and one of the city’s major employers. Its Charities Trust is also one of the world’s top ten charity donors. The Club is always "riding high together for a better future" with the people of Hong Kong.