Expat New Zealand trainer Jamie Richards celebrated his first win in Hong Kong overnight courtesy of Handsome Rebel in the Class 5 Pottinger Handicap (1000m) at Happy Valley.
The Denman gelding was previously under Richards’ care when training alongside Stephen Autridge for Te Akau Racing at Matamata.
Handsome Rebel won one and placed in four of his six starts in New Zealand, including thirds in the Gr.3 Phoenix Park 2YO Classic (1200m) and Gr.3 Matamata Slipper (1200m) back in 2018, the latter ridden by Richards’ now fiancé Danielle Johnson.
The seven-year-old transferred to Richards’ Hong Kong stable from Me Tsui, who brought up his 600th win in Hong Kong earlier on the Happy Valley card.
Handsome Rebel made the perfect start for Richards fresh-up, and the Kiwi horseman was relieved to chalk up his first training win in the Asian racing jurisdiction.
“I'm very pleased, it's been a long road getting to here,” Richards said.
“It's good to get the birdie off the back and get the winner. A big thank you to everyone at the stable, they've all been working really hard and have done a great job.
“(Assistant trainer) Jones (Ma) has assembled a really good team of people and obviously I'm very new here and still learning what it's all about, so they have worked incredibly hard to keep me up to speed.
“Victor (Wong) rode him perfectly, he didn't have to think too much - he just had to go forward and keep rolling. It's a very, very special moment.”
Wong, 29, was overjoyed after partnering Handsome Rebel.
“This horse has improved so much in the summer. Every day in the summer, I ride him and I’m so happy that he’s improved. I’m very happy to get the ride for Jamie Richards, I must thank him for the ride,” Wong said.
Richards arrived in Hong Kong late last season to set up his stable after numerous years at the helm of Te Akau Racing in New Zealand, where he trained with remarkable success at home and across the Tasman in Australia.
The 33-year-old is synonymous with training exceptional talents such as Melody Belle, Probabeel, Te Akau Shark, Xtravagant, Gingernuts and Avantage.
He was crowned New Zealand Champion Trainer four times (2015/16 [with Steven Autridge], 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22) and set single-season wins and prize money records in the process.