Many forget that before winning three consecutive races on Beauty Generation for the owners and John Moore, Derek Leung had won the 2017 Celebration Cup as the galloper began his incredible ascent to championship heights. Of those three wins was a terrific front running ride by the rider in the 2019 Group 1 Hong Kong International Mile.

While Beauty Generation was to go on to be one of the world’s highest rated milers with Zac Purton taking over the reins, Derek Leung was slowly making up for lost time after a race fall in 2016 that almost short circuited his career.

Mental resolve is a great thing to have. And through support from wife Kit, the rider has turned things turn around. Especially this season, he’s back to riding with plenty of dash and confidence.

Last October, he won the Premier Bowl on Wishful Thinker. A couple of weeks ago, he won the Jockeys Challenge- and more. This was at one of those rare Saturday afternoon meetings that often throw up a few curve balls and when the Hong Kong-born jockey rode his first treble in a year.

Two of these winners were for trainer Paul O’Sullivan to whom Derek was indentured when an apprentice, and who has remained a vital part of the rider’s support system.

At last Wednesday night’s Happy Valley meeting, he took off from where he left by riding the first winner on the card.

At this afternoon’s first race of the Lunar New Year meeting, Derek Leung got the Year Of The Ox up and running on Kung Fu Panda, again trained by Paul O’Sullivan.

Panda? Ox? Close. Important was starting this New Year off on a winning note.

Racing everywhere in the world is known for its fickleness. There are constantly changing flavours of the month as that rumour mill can often work overtime and spit out some of the weirdest “news”.

This is especially true in the big money congee bowl of Hong Kong racing where many have short memories- owners, trainers and, possibly even fellow jockeys- and loyalty is in short supply.

A product of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Apprentice School alongside Vincent CY Ho and Keith Yeung, Derek Leung was seen as the one with the most potential.

He had spent time in New Zealand under the tutelage of former champion New Zealand jockey Lance O’Sullivan before returning to Hong Kong for the 2009/10 season. No less than then-Champion Hong Kong rider Douglas Whyte was quick to note the young rider’s bright future. If Whyte saw a possible problem, it was that Derek Leung was still a growing boy.

His height didn’t hold him back from riding winners including taking out the Asian Guns series in Singapore in 2010 and winning the Tony Cruz Award for being the most successful Hong Kong-born rider in 2017 and 2018.

While these past two seasons have seen the rise and rise of Vincent Ho as a senior rider, mainly through his association with the brilliant Golden Sixty and a strong bond with the successful Francis Lui stable, Derek Leung is certainly not ready to roll over play second fiddle. He’s making the very best of everything that comes his way.

There’s an extra spring in his step and knows that nothing speaks louder than success. Owners are listening and watching as are trainers and the racing media.

This is why it was good to see him standing next to Zac Purton at the somewhat lame farewell ceremony around a month ago for Beauty Generation with that emotional speech from Master SaSa.

The important thing is that the connections had not forgotten Derek Leung and the role he played in the Beauty Generation story.

Made In Hong Kong stories like his and the comeback this season- and winning double today of Matthew Chadwick who’s back riding winners for his old boss Tony Cruz- should not be allowed to fall through the cracks.

They’re extremely important confident boosters. And confidence, to anyone, is a priceless commodity to possess.

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

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