By Hans Ebert

It was while taking a break from watching the fabulous Kandace Springs and her amazing ‘live’ online performance on Facebook to look up at what was unfolding on television- the second race at Shatin Racecourse: Joao Moreira had won the first on the short priced favourite and the market believed he could bring up a quick fire double aboard Bundle Of Energy. It wasn’t to be as Frenchman Antoine Hamelin had other ideas.

While the Magic Man had his mount around the middle of the field with Bundle Of Energy grinding away for a somewhat tired looking second, Hamelin produced a superb ride on Impeccable Fellow to take out the race. And though a lowly Class 5 race, that (impeccable) ride elevated the status of the horses doing battle.

It was him not needing to think twice about answering an urgent call to leave France and join the then-depleted riding ranks that first introduced the rider to Hong Kong racing fans- and as an unknown commodity.

Following his two weeks of compulsory self isolation, Antoine Hamelin made his debut at Shatin Racecourse and created an immediate impact by riding a double.

This is not something done by many newcomers to Hong Kong racing. But, as we have seen over the past couple of months, Hamelin wasn’t going to waste any time. He had grabbed the opportunity to ride here with both hands and knew that there’s no success like riding winners- and something that had to be done quickly and regularly.

It’s not difficult to look at the Jockeys standings and see which expatriate riders are finding it almost impossible to be first past the winning post. Getting on those horses able to win is a full time job- which is to say that it doesn’t always work out.

Look at how difficult the Magic Man seems to be finding it to win this season on many of the horses trained by the great John Size. That former firepower is shooting quite a few blanks these days with Joao Moreira looking almost desperate trying to get them home.

Hong Kong racing is a great leveller. It doesn’t matter how well someone might have done from wherever they came and what champion horses they might have ridden. Past glories have no place in the Now. Plus people have short memories.

With racing twice a week and offering many in the racing fraternity a very good lifestyle and low taxes, the payoff is having to work to get rides and often being saddled with having to go around on horses in the lower classes.

This is where Antoine Hamelin will succeed. And is succeeding.

He’s happy to be in Hong Kong. He rides equally well at Happy Valley Racecourse and Shatin. He’s gone on record about how much he savours the prospect of riding regularly against the Zac and Joao and The Mauritian Magician Show, and, quite often, beating them at their own game.

His strike rate is making trainers, owners and especially the powerful Chinese racing media become his cheerleaders. He’s quickly gained a support system that riders who have spent far more time in the city find it extremely difficult to win over.

Today, Antoine Hamelin is in demand by nearly every stable- those belonging to Douglas Whyte, Richard Gibson, Ricky Yiu, KL Man, Tony Millard, Jimmy Ting, Chris So and others.

Why all the demand? Nothing speaks louder than success. And this latest Frenchman to the Hong Kong jockeys community is certainly making himself heard.

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