In a boost to South Australia’s apprentice jockey ranks, Gary Lo has returned to Adelaide from Hong Kong determined to make his mark on the state’s thoroughbred riding scene.
Lo spent close to three years in Adelaide from late 2017 to 2020 under the tutelage of trainer Phillip Stokes and Racing South Australia’s Apprentice Academy, riding 66 winners from more than 700 starts.
The 22-year-old, who grew up in Hong Kong, has been eager to return to Adelaide for the past year but the process was delayed by the travel restrictions currently in place due to Covid-19.
Lo was offered an opportunity to ride in Macau but chose to return to Adelaide where he felt he had good support from the industry.
“I’m really excited to be back. I’ve been waiting more than one year in Hong Kong, so it’s good to be back,” Lo said.
“I really want to be a champion apprentice jockey, that is my first goal. I think it will take around one month to pick up my fitness and then I hope to be riding back at the races.”
After completing his quarantine, Lo returned to track riding on Wednesday and has resumed his apprenticeship through the Stokes stable and the SA Apprentice Academy.
“I rode for Phillip and Tommy (Stokes) for over two years and they really supported me a lot so I’m very happy to be back with them,” he said.
“I’ve missed riding so much, I just love horses.”
Trainer Tommy Stokes thinks Lo’s return is a boost for the Stokes Racing team.
“Gary still claims 3kgs at the moment so he fills a void in the apprentice ranks in South Australia,” Stokes said.
“I think he’ll be well sought after and will find his feet straight away.
“More staff means more horses, so for us it means we’ll be able to put a few more horses in work.”
Racing SA Apprentice Academy Master Briony Moore said the return of Lo further cemented the organisation’s vision to increase apprentice numbers.
“Gary was a very accomplished 3kg apprentice in the metropolitan area prior to him leaving so it’s exciting to have him back in SA’s apprentice jockey ranks.,” Moore said.
“As he’s had 12 months off track work riding, trials and racing he’ll take the next few weeks to get his fitness up.
“He’ll obviously have to do a few trials to the satisfaction of the stewards and when that’s all done and we’re happy we will see him back at the races, probably in about a month’s time.”
Lo is one of several Hong Kong jockeys who have honed their craft on South Australian race tracks in recent years, including Matthew Poon, Victor Wong and Alfred Chan.