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The Mauritian rider is fixing his fumbles ahead of a season he hopes will firm his winning connection with Romantic Warrior.
Karis Teetan has his new kit ready for the upcoming Hong Kong season. Last week he took delivery of a batch of gear from his favourite supplier: a multi-coloured selection of featherweight vests, riding shirts, breaches, socks and silken caps carrying the Teetan logo.
But riding gloves were not included: at least, not any for use in race riding. While some jockeys consider gloves to be an essential piece of race day kit – think Brett Prebble and his eye-catching bright red or snowy white – the Mauritian is not about to depart from his favoured bare-handed approach; not even after a run of fumbles last season that saw him drop his whip in-running seven times.
Instead, the ever-upbeat Mauritian, 32, is relying on his well-known commitment to self-improvement to fix the issue ahead of a season that he hopes will bring further big-race success on the star four-year-old Romantic Warrior; perhaps even push closer to rattling the to-and-fro champions, Zac Purton and Joao Moreira.
“I can’t ride in races with gloves,” he told the Report. “I do ride track work with gloves but in a race, I want to feel the rein and feel the horses but when I wear gloves, it just feels too thick in my hands and I prefer not to wear them.
“Horses sweat a lot in Hong Kong and the reins get a bit slippery, but besides that, there’s something I was doing wrong, I was dropping it more often than I should. Sometimes you make a mistake and you drop the whip but you could see towards the end of last season, when I got that big fine at Happy Valley, I worked on it and fixed a few things.”
The last of those mishaps came on June 22 at Happy Valley aboard Best For You when he pulled his stick from left to right at around the 200-metre point and it tumbled to the ground. It was a pricey error, costing him a HK$20,000 penalty; that was on top of a HK$10,000 fine the stewards handed him for dropping the stick three days earlier at Sha Tin. Teetan’s total fines for dropping the whip during races in the 2021-22 season came to HK$40,000.
Data compiled using information from the Hong Kong Jockey Club stewards’ reports shows that Teetan dropped his whip 17 times going back to the start of the 2018-19 season. That is the most of any jockey, with Alexis Badel registering 12 drops and Antoine Hamelin 10. Keith Yeung has the safest pair of hands: he dropped his whip once in 1,615 rides during that period.
But Teetan is not the most frequent ‘dropper’, that unwanted title goes to Jerry Chau whose nine fumbles came at a rate of one every 111 race rides; Hamelin, Alfie Chan and Badel have also dropped their whips with more frequency than Teetan.
Holding the reins when the race gets serious has also been problematic, though. Teetan dropped his reins in 26 instances last season, more than triple the number of any other jockey, at a frequency of once every 106 rides.
That error is not covered in the rules of racing, and, as with the whip, it is impossible to say for certain what effect it would have on an outcome but in five instances Teetan was beaten half a length or less after letting the reins slip; he was beaten by half a length or less in three instances after dropping the whip.
The Mauritian, it should be noted, is one of Hong Kong’s leading riders with a knack for getting his mounts out of the gate quickly and into stride, and being always willing to go into a tight spot when necessary. Horses run for him and he has more than 500 wins to his credit, has been a dependable third in the premiership in recent seasons and is one of the past decade’s biggest success stories.
He has already assessed the issues and believes they are behind him as he looks to improve on the commendable 73 winners he secured last season.
“I see now what I could have been doing wrong,” he said. “You go through these things; we all make mistakes in life and sometimes we have to work at it and fix it.
“It got that I was thinking about it too much and trying too hard to change things too quickly and the mistakes just kept happening. I’m not letting it bother my thoughts now, it’s just more practice and work at home and continue to think positively: these things come together and that’s how improvement comes.”
Teetan also believes the mental fatigue of lockdowns and being stuck in Hong Kong for three years without being able to leave and see family, or just take a break from the day-to-day, may have contributed to his butter fingers.
“We were stuck in Hong Kong for so long and I think mentally I was drained, I was maybe not thinking right, making a decision too quickly, just making silly mistakes because of that fatigue. But I feel better now coming into the season, and this holiday has definitely freshened me up. I’m just looking forward to the season now.”
Teetan’s partnership last term with the Danny Shum-trained Romantic Warrior yielded wins in the Hong Kong Derby, G1 QEII Cup and Hong Kong Classic Mile. In the past, he has been an occasional go-to for rides on top horses but he rode the scene’s newest star in each of his latest four races and this time he is looking to ensure he maintains a long-term hook-up with the top-class galloper.
“I’ve ridden lots of good horses in Hong Kong, like Able Friend and Designs On Rome when John Moore was here, and Mr Stunning for John Size, but I was never able to keep them throughout the season,” he said. “But Romantic Warrior, at this moment, looks like a horse that I could stick with throughout the season and make a good connection with.”
|Jockey||Lost whip count||Total mounts||Frequency (rides per dropped whip)|
|C L Chau||9||999||111|
|K C Leung||9||2208||245.3|
|M F Poon||9||2145||238.3|
|K H Chan||7||842||120.3|
|H T Mo||5||1244||248.8|
|H N Wong||3||1124||374.7|
|C Y Ho||2||2371||1185.5|
|H W Lai||2||708||354|
|M L Yeung||1||1615||1615|
|Jockey||Lost rein count||Total mounts||Frequency (rides per dropped rein)|
|M F Poon||8||2145||268.1|
|M L Yeung||7||1615||230.7|
|C L Chau||6||999||166.5|
|K H Chan||5||842||168.4|
|H T Mo||3||1244||414.7|
|H N Wong||2||1124||562|
|C Y Ho||1||2371||2371|
|H W Lai||0||708||-|
|K C Leung||0||2208||-|
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