Perseverance Pays Off For Eric Cheung

Five pounds claiming rider Eric Cheung is off to a great start in his first season as a fully fledged rider with a double on Saturday’s mixed turf and sand card, to take him to second spot in the early jockeys’ standings for the new season.

Cheung's afternoon got off with a flying start literally when You And You Alone  ran his rivals into the ground with a four lengths win in the Class 3 & 4 over 1200 metres. 

YOU AND YOU ALONE winning the THE AREIA PRETA (DIV 2) Picture: Macau Jockey Club

Prepared by Sio Cheung, You And You Alone flew the gates and set up a big lead in the middle stages, and then maintained a strong gallop right down to the wire to defeat Heartgoodallwell (Charlie Chan), with Colonel Mordaunt (Stephane Ladjadj) in third.

You And You Alone has been a cheap buy for owner Mr. Mok Shing Fung who picked up the five year old mare for the modest sum of A$22,500 at the Inglis 2019 September Online Sale. The daughter of Love Conquers All (Aus) was originally sold for A$90,000 at the 2017 Inglis Classic Yearling Sales and was raced by Nick Moraitis of the great Might And Power fame.

CHI CHAI SIN SANG winning the THE AREIA PRETA Picture: Macau Jockey Club

You And You Alone only managed two placings at Wyong and Nowra when prepared by Joseph Pride before being shipped to Macau; however Saturday's win in the slick time of 1.08.7 which .05 quicker than the other division taken out by Chi Chai Sin Sang, bodes well for the mare who will have no trouble winning a few more on the turf over the sprint distances for trainer Sio Cheong.

Wayne Smith's Chi Chai Sin Sang  was the second of Cheung's winners when he prevailed in a thrilling four way finish in another division of the Class 3 & 4 over 1200 metres.

Eric Cheung and Wayne Smith
Eric Cheung and Wayne Smith Picture: Macau Jockey Club

Chi Chai Sin Sang enjoyed the run of the race before securing an inside run late to score by a neck over Luen On Prosperity (Peter Lao), with Partners Fortune (Peter Ho) in third and a nose way in fourth Electroplate Alloy.

It was win number four for Chi Chai Chin Sang a son of Per Incanto (USA) who after being an NZ $60,000 purchase at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock 2YO Ready To Run Sales, commenced his career under the Aquis Farm banner with Toby Edmonds at the Gold Coast. After placing second in two barrier trails one at the Gold Coast and one at Newcastle, the gelding was purchased by Wayne Smith for Macau owner Mr. Won In Chong.  The chestnut has already picked up close to HKD $700,000 in prize money.

ROYAL GARDEN winning the THE AFONSO ALBUQUERQUE Picture: Macau Jockey Club

Whilst Cheung is in his first year as a jockey in his own right, he is still eligible to claim a five allowance as he has still not ridden the required 105 winners to lose his claim.

Cheung was a late starter as a jockey and it's been a long journey for the 29 year old Hong Kong born lad to arrive in Macau.

"None of my family has ever been involved in racing but I used to watch the Hong Kong races at home on the TV and fell in love with the horse racing." He said.

Originally starting as a trainee apprentice with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Cheung was not offered an apprenticeship after he completed his training. After spending five years as a track rider in Hong Kong, Cheung still had a desire to become a jockey and took it upon his self to travel to Australia.

"I first went to Toby Edmonds at the Gold Coast for awhile but I could not get a start there so I went to Warwick Farm where I worked as a freelance track rider.  Then a friend suggested I contact Gordon Yorke at Gosford and I ended up going there and after 12 months and 12 barrier trials I got my license."

Cheung got off to a fairytale start winning at his very first race ride on Radiologist at Coffs Harbour for Gordon Yorke on June 24th 2016.  Five months down the track with 17 winners from just over 100 race rides it was all over for him in Australia, when he encountered visa problems and had to return home to Hong Kong.

After one year away from racing Cheung was enticed by former Champion Hong Kong apprentice and now a Champion Macau trainer Stanley Chin to give it another shot in the enclave.  The apprentice got off to a perfect start in Macau for his new master winning at his first ride on Chin's My Fortune Star in March 2018.

Cheung is now starting his third full year in Macau and after being sidelined for many months at the start of last season with injury has ridden a total of 53 winners.

Royal Garden  returned to the winners circle after an absence of over 12 months to take out Saturday's Class 2 & 3 Handicap over 1500 metres under Japanese horseman Massa Tanaka.

The seven year old was given the run of the race by Tanaka in a one out one back trial before peeling of the back of the leaders at the top of the straight. Under strong riding the gelding went home too well for Tuhao Choice (Luis Corrales); with race favorite Victory Moment (Peter Ho) in third.

Prepared by Stanley Chin, Royal Garden was runner up to Pearl Green in the 2018 SJM Derby only going down by a neck after running almost to the outside fence and throwing the race away.  At his peak the son of Remind (USA) was rated at 98 points, however the loss of form had seen him tumble down to a mark of 73 for Saturday's race.

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