Many have written and continue to write about John Size and just what a remarkable horseman and trainer he is. There have also been countless interviews with him over the years. Still, there’s always the feeling that one still knows very little about the man.

He’s kinda one part The Man With No Name from Sergio Leone’s “Dollars” trilogy, and one part Gary Cooper in “High Noon”. Perhaps that’s how he wants it- a certain anonymity- and where he would rather let his horses and their successes do the talking for him- at least what little talking John Size does.

I have met John Size once in my life. For some reason, around four years ago, I was asked to interview a few jockeys and the trainer about their most memorable moments when it came to the Hong Kong International Races and what this highlight of the Hong Kong racing calendar meant to them.

The first person scheduled to be interviewed was John Size. This was at the Hyatt Regency in Shatin which I had never visited before. This new experience made me uncomfortable.

More uncomfortable was it being obvious that this interview was one of the last things John Size wanted to do and asked for his script. Script? I had no script. No one mentioned a script. It was about winging it and seeing what would come out in the wash. You know, keeping things real and spontaneous. He wasn’t exactly pleased to hear this. It showed how John Size doesn’t like surprises. No zigzagging allowed.

Thinking that this was something I hadn’t signed on for and was about to take my leave, what helped thaw the ice was mentioning something about, I think, Gorillaz, and how I knew Blur frontman Damon Albarn who created the virtual band.

Random? Possibly though having heard that he likes his music, it was just trying to change tact. It worked. The short interview was better than expected without being Sir David Attenborough riveting.

Over the years, I have read many times how Size matters. Size, John Size. Though not a dyed in the wool horse racing fan, there’s always been respect for the way he manages his business and handles the racing media. There’s the feeling that he would rather be doing something else- like being at his stables and working with his horses- but how media relations come with the gig.

His partnerships with jockeys is something discussed and analysed by some that goes back to the days when he worked with Shane Dye, Robbie Fradd and, of course, what became the long-running Whyte-Size horse opera.

What one can gauge from these partnerships is that if it ain’t broke, why fix it? And if broke, it’s finding the best options available- or waiting for them to appear.

Whether true or not, there are two stories to do with John Size that never fail to bring a smile to my face. One has to do with a rival trainer convinced that there must be some funny stuff going on after Size’s breakout first season in Hong Kong and when he started off with a stable of just 16 horses.

The story goes how the suspicious competitor hid in the bushes and spied on this successful newcomer to the city while he was working at his stables. There was nothing to see- only a dedicated horseman looking after his charges.

The other story- again, no idea if it’s true or not- is about a jockey he used from time to time wishing to get out of trialling some of Size’s horses the next day. He is said to have called the trainer with an excuse about not being well. The jockey apparently laughed to the friends he was with at what he thought he had pulled off. The problem is that the jockey hadn’t properly hung up his phone.

John Size is said to have heard everything, but never mentioned it. What happened next was the aforementioned jockey puzzled as to why he was not getting any rides from the Size stable for over two months. He might have finally been told why.

Not having been in Hong Kong when John Size first arrived in the city for the 2000-2001 racing season, one can only assume that he enjoyed a successful association with the jockeys he used during those early years.

Same with the Dream Team comprising him and Douglas Whyte until Butch and Sundance went their separate ways and the Brazilian Magic Man suddenly appeared in Hong Kong from Singapore in a puff of smoke.A new chapter in Hong Kong racing started. Dreams became magical.

We might know about A Man Called Horse, but what about The Man Called Size?

In Hong Kong where almost everything, especially in horse racing, is about “face” and keeping owners happy by attending lunches and dinners with them and saying the right things, John Size has made it something of an art form to avoid playing this game. By so doing, it’s given HIM great “face”.

Owners I know talk about him in glowing terms- his professionalism, how he demands loyalty, that he is very much his own man and chooses everyone around him very carefully.

His is not a “punting stable”. It’s always been about having good young horses, realising their potential and seeing how far he can take them. If he’s competing with anyone, it’s challenging himself.

It’s why he recently trained his 1300th winner in Hong Kong. There’s something else about John Size that travels under the radar: the opportunities he gives riders who might need a slight vote of confidence. A confidence booster.

When he and Douglas Whyte were the Dream Team, he still provided winners to a new kid in town finding it tough to get winning rides: William Pike. There was a memorable meeting when Whyte was indisposed. Pike was offered three of his rides- and won on all of them.

In 2015, he offered the Derby ride on Luger to a rider he had never used before: Zac Purton. It was the Zac Attack’s first Hong Kong Derby winner.

That surreal year when Joao Moreira decided to try his luck in Japan and abruptly left Hong Kong, John Size offered what turned out to be winning rides to Karis Teetan, Brett Prebble, Olivier Delouze and others, including whenever he was in town, Ryan Moore, someone else not exactly known for talking about anything and everything.

This season though the Magic Man has first call on horses from his stable, and sometimes pulls the wrong rein, beneficiaries of his “rejects” have been riders like Alexis Badel, Teetan, Matthew Chadwick and Blake Shinn.

Is this to show that no one is indispensable?

This is where we came in. John Size is his own man. What he cares most about are the horses in his care and those owners who have put their trust in him.

I don’t know John Size. Never will. But this doesn’t stop me admiring and respecting him.

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