Expat Kiwi trainer Jamie Richards is set to have his first runners in Hong Kong at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
“I’m looking forward to it – hopefully the horses can come out and run well, no doubt they’ll improve with the run a bit but they should run well,” Richards said.
Flying On The Turf will be Richards’ first runner in Hong Kong when he contests the second section of the Class 5 Island Handicap (1200m). Fortune Master and Rattan Kingdom also step out later on the card for the New Zealander.
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.
The winner of more than 50 Group Ones, Richards is aware of the challenges he faces in an entirely new environment – while lucrative – that is renowned for its unforgiving nature.
“It’s very different (here in Hong Kong), from a training perspective the heat and humidity play roles and from a handicap and acceptances point of view it’s very different too with trump cards, preferences and the like, so it’s taken a little bit of getting used to but we’ve got Jonesy as our assistant trainer and he has a good handle on all of that,” he said.
“There’ll be plenty to learn over the next 12 months and couple of years but in time hopefully we can sort it all out.”
Currently with 51 horses registered in his stable, Richards’ highest rated horse is Buddies who sits on a mark of 88 after transferring as a Group Three winner from the Tony Cruz yard. Palamos, whom Richards previously trained in New Zealand, is one of several four-year-olds in his care along with Starfire Gems, a 63-rated son of Japanese sire Maurice.
“It’s been plenty of different lunches and dinners with all of the owners and working that side of things out but I’m really pleased with the support that the owners have given us and now it’s time to do the job for them,” Richards said.
Rattan Kingdom gets blinkers applied for the first time as he looks to give Richards a memorable start to his career in Hong Kong when he contests section two of the Class 4 Wong Chuk Hang Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley.
“He’s going well enough, he’s going to race with blinkers on for the first time to try and sharpen him up a little bit but he seems to be working well and eating well enough,” Richards said.
04 March 2024
“During the course we teach the kids to set and maintain personal boundaries, use their backbone, and stand up for themselves using our horses."
04 March 2024
“We want to look after him and we think he has a bright future next prep. He is a staying type of horse and there are a lot of opportunities for him next year.”