50 years of training racing talents
Samson Lau: “In the last ten years, many of our students have gone on to become Hong Kong’s best riders. And they are just as brilliant as world-class riders from overseas.”
Samson Lau, Training Manager at the Apprentice Jockeys’ School (AJS) of The Hong Kong Jockey Club, is proud to have been associated with this cradle of local riding talents over the past few decades. Once upon a time, Samson was also an outstanding student of the school. “The jockeys’ training has become more systematic and comprehensive after years of improvement,” says Samson. “In terms of both racing and horse care, we are now more knowledgeable and more advanced.”
The founding of the AJS in 1972 marked the professionalisation of Hong Kong jockeys. Samson was among the second batch of trainees who graduated from the school. In 1978, he became a jockey after racking up 40 winners as an apprentice. After he hung up his riding boots in 1987, he returned to the AJS to train apprentice jockeys. In working also as Stable and Safety Manager for the school, he has contributed years of experience on and off the track back to the racing sport.
Today, Samson teaches as well as organises riding training at the AJS. He explains that new trainees first need to take a foundation course in Huangcun, Guangzhou before they receive advanced training such as sprints and ‘jump outs’ (of the stalls) at Conghua Racecourse. After that they go to Sha Tin Racecourse for further training. Notably, sports science is also included in jockeys’ training, so is a special programme of muscle training. Top trainees will be sent to work with trainers overseas to gain race experience.
“The systematic training we provide has achieved stunning results. In the last ten years, many of our students have gone on to become Hong Kong’s best riders,” says Samson. “And they are just as brilliant as world-class riders from overseas.”
In 2005, the Club launched the Racing Development Board to provide a range of courses for the racing industry. On the 50th anniversary of the AJS this year, the Board has been rebranded as the Racing Talent Training Centre (RTTC) with two schools under it, namely the AJS and the Racing Talent School (RTS). While the AJS will continue provide riding training, the RTS provides skills-specific training for non-riding professionals, e.g. stable assistants, assistant trainers, farriers and more.