By Hans Ebert

It’s tough for a few to take, but Hong Kong born Apprentice rider Jerry Chau continues to prove his doubters wrong by riding winner after winner- and not only because of his weight advantage.

Australian John Hardie, a strange man at the best of times, with such a huge chocolate chip cookie on his shoulder, and someone heavily weighed down by anger, the one-time racing writer for the Star in Hong Kong and the principle cheerleader of Team Moore, once famously wrote that “Tony Cruz is not the greatest thing since chow fan”.

Of course, Cruz, at that time a highly successful apprentice jockey, didn’t impress Hardie. John Hardie was very much the unofficial press officer for the Moore dynasty, especially champion trainer and jockey George and Gary Moore.

If around today, Mr Angry would be writing that same line about Jerry Chau. But Hong Kong isn’t a colony anymore. Those one-time perks of being a “white man” in the media or any role in this city in change are long gone.

As for Jerry Chau, if he keeps his feet on the ground and realises that he’s still on a steep learning curve, he might even be better than chow fan. He could well be a very good senior rider. Possibly even the best from Hong Kong since the legendary Tony Cruz.

Apart from the experience gained by riding for a respected trainer like Hall Of Famer Leon McDonald in Adelaide, there was his fast tracked arrival in Hong Kong a little over a season ago.

This was to bolster, what was at the time, the city’s wafer thin jockey ranks through unexpected circumstances. This surprise baptism of fire has forced him to become more than anyone imagined he could be- possibly including the Hong Hong Jockey Club.

Indentured to former multiple champion jockey Douglas Whyte hasn’t hurt. Hardly. The South African legend gave him the first of two winners at his first day riding in Hong Kong at Shatin.

(Photo: Wallace Wan)

He also has the great Felix Coetzee watching over him just as he does the other apprentice riders and helping them fine-tune their riding skills,

Jerry Chau is no one trick pony. He’s quickly worked out how to ride the tight city track and has already racked up 19 winners while riding against names like Joao Moreira, Zac Purton, Karis Teetan, Vincent Ho and Alexis Badel. It’s all very different to riding winners in Gawler and Balaklava, Toto.

He might be the flavour of the month, but here’s betting that the flavour sticks.

Watching him being interviewed, he handles himself well. He’s in demand by nearly every stable IF not needed by the Whyte stable.

During a race, he no doubt rides to instructions, but can ad-lib and rewrite the script if necessary. He’s also deceptively strong in a finish.

Weight difference aside, it took a very strong ride recently for him to overhaul Joao Moreira on in a tight finish a few Sundays ago.

While the Brazilian magic man looked home and hosed, Chau arrived riding hands and heels with a confidence once associated with Douglas Whyte to overhaul one of the world’s best riders. It was sorcerer and apprentice stuff.

When starting out as a ten-pound claimer in Hong Kong- he can now claim only seven pounds- Chau didn’t always use this weight advantage to charge to the front at all costs and try and steal the race.

The Cisco Kid rode like that. So did a couple of other riders back in the day who went on to be trainers. Imagine what their riding instructions might have been. The mind boggles.

Here’s hoping that Jerry Chau continues to keep rising to the occasion- and taking on every challenge that comes his way.

Unfortunately,, a suspension means not participating during the week of the upcoming Hong Kong International Races and when the racing world will be watching. But he has time on his side.

Achieving success isn’t a race. It often has everything to do with patience and timing. Jerry Chau seems to have plenty of both.

(Photo: Wallace Wan)

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