Starring : Neil Callan & Derek Leung, jockeys of the Race of the Riders
08th February 2016 Hong Kong
Some of Hong Kong’s leading jockeys are busy training for the Hong Kong Jockey Club Race of the Riders at next week’s Longines Masters of Hong Kong.
Neil Callan and Derek Leung have this week been taking private lessons at the HKJC’s Beas River Equestrian Centre under the tutelage of the highly respected resident coach Joachim Heidenreich.
Callan competed in the inaugural Race of the Riders last year and is hoping for a much better performance in 2016.
"I enjoyed being part of such a big global equestrian event last year but was very disappointed that my horse decided not to perform on the night. She got freaked out by the noise and business of the show so this year I have a point to prove and will hopefully get one that will jump,” said Callan.
"In preparation for the show I have had a couple of training sessions with Joachim at Beas River. Me and one of the other jockeys Derek Leung actually had joint lesson this morning."
Callan, whose wife Trish is a keen equestrian, is a big fan of the HKJC Race of the Riders concept and can’t wait to be part of all the action again next week.
"I think it's great that both sports can be combined so that the public get to see riders doing different styles of riding out of there comfort zones as obviously race riding is very different."
"The atmosphere at a show like this is great and last year the crowd gave us all a lot of support but obviously winning a big race in front of a whole grandstand is pretty special too."
On the racetrack Callan is a fiercely competitive rider and takes the same attitude to the show jumping arena at AsiaWorld-Expo.
"I am not going to lie, of course I would love to win it. I like to win at everything I do I'm very competitive.”
In the lead up to next week’s event Callan is taking plenty of advice from his wife Trish, herself a very accomplished rider and his children who are also keen riders.
"My wife doesn't really give me tips she has been to watch me train because she used to jump in the UK for fun and really enjoys the sport but it's my eldest son Jack who is starting to get very into it so I should probably listen to him,” he said.
Callan labels UK legend John Whitaker as his favourite show jumping rider in the world and is looking forward to seeing him return to the Longines Masters of Hong Kong next week.
"I admire show jumpers like the Whitaker’s they are a family of amazing riders and true legends at their profession but I also think my partner is an exceptional rider.”
Callan will team up with Irish show jumper Bertram Allen in next week’s HKJC Race of the Riders and they will compete under the team name of “The Irish Flames”.
His training partner Derek Leung will pair with Jacqueline Lai and they will be known as the the “Hong Kong Dynamic Duo”.
The HKJC Race of the Riders will take place at 9:15pm on the opening night of the Longines Hong Kong Masters on Friday February 19.