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Bound for Hong Kong with mixed emotions

Jockey Gary Lo says leaving his friends behind in Adelaide will be the most difficult part of moving back to Hong Kong.

Gary’s fledgling career received a potentially lucrative boost last week when he was granted a licence to ride in Hong Kong from March 29, ending his South Australian stint, which began in late 2017 with trainer Phillip Stokes.

Over the past couple of years he has ridden scores of winners, including an impressive list of metropolitan successes at Morphettville. His SA audition obviously pleased Hong Kong Jockey Club officials, who last week officially granted him a licence to follow in the footsteps of Matthew Poon and other jockeys who have used SA as a stepping stone to one of the world’s most financially rewarding – and competitive – racing precincts.

“I feel quite excited and I’m looking forward to it, but I’m sad to be leaving here,” Gary said.

“I’ve been here for a few years and it’s been my home.

“I think I’ll miss my friends the most, my stable, all the jockeys, and probably the lifestyle.”

Gary – who claims 1.5kg at provincial meets and 3kg at metropolitan meets – is grateful for his South Australian experience and believes it will hold him in good stead for the tough Hong Kong racing scene.

“I’ve got a lot of experience here, and I’m ready to ride over there, even though I’m probably still a bit new,” he said.

“I think it’ll be a good time to start over there because it’s almost the finish of the season. Most of the horses are a bit tired now, so if you put on a 10-pound (4.5kg) apprentice it will help.”

The 21-year-old has so far posted 29 wins from just over 260 rides in the 2019/20 season. His favourite on-track association is with the Stokes’ horse Holy Dancer.

“I had three rides on her and got three wins,” Gary said.

“One was her maiden at Strathalbyn, then two wins at Morphettville.”

For the time being, Gary is focused on finishing his local stint in style.

“I’ll just be trying my best to give every horse every chance and try to get as many winners as I can,” he said.

“Hopefully I’ll be riding on Adelaide Cup Day – that’ll be my last day.”

Apprentices initially relocate on two-year visas but only return when the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s licensing committee deems them ready.

Gary’s most high-profile predecessor is Matthew Poon, who achieved great success during his South Australian stint, and has since become an established rider in Hong Kong. Others to have made the switch back are Victor Wong and Alfred Chan.

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