The Racing SA Apprentice Academy has welcomed three new faces into the program including Hong Kong Jockey Club rider Alan Lai, Chelsey Reynolds and Tala Hutchinson.
Twenty-two year old Lai has temporarily moved in with Britney Wong and Nichola Yuen, who’ve helped him settle into South Australia.
He’s apprenticed to Leon Macdonald and Andrew Gluyas at Morphettville.
“Alan has done the most work of any trialling Hong Kong apprentice we’ve ever had to date,” said Academy Master Briony Moore.
“Speaking to the stable, they are really happy with him. He speaks great English, he is charismatic and shown great willingness to learn, so from our point of view you can’t ask for more than that and he’s been a good little surprise package.
“Alan won’t need to do many trials as he has such a high level of experience, he just has to familiarise himself with our race tempos and get to know our horses and jockeys,” said Moore.
Reynolds and Hutchinson come from vastly different backgrounds and Moore is looking forward to helping them develop.
Both girls have progressed through the Racing SA Trackwork Riding Skills course.
Reynolds used to work on the horse tram from Victor Harbor to Granite Island, and at 28 years of age is a mature age apprentice.
“Chelsey has come a long way in terms of her tactical riding. She works for Wayne Francis and Glen Kent at Finniss Lodge and is going to get a lot of support from her stable.
“She has been willing to take on any challenge thrown at her, and is a natural lightweight.
“Chelsey is a quiet achiever and will only grow with confidence. I think her maturity will be her biggest asset and will take her far,” said moore.
Like Chelsey, Tala just missed out on the mid-year apprentice intake and has strong support from her trainer Michael Hickmott at Murray Bridge.
“Tala is 152 centimetres tall and there is no doubt that she has got that jockey framework for riding. She has a nice little seat and has been working on her fitness.
“It’s exciting that the girls have been given this opportunity, and we’ll do our best to help them take the next step.
“They’ve both got adjustments to make like any rider throughout their careers, and we will work with them really closely to get them ready for trials in a month or so,” said Moore.
While the Racing SA Apprentice Academy intake is in August each year, movement from within the Academy ranks has provided the opportunity to work with industry and get more young riders into the system.
For all those wanting to join the Apprentice Academy, or to find out more about the intake process, click here.