That something else wasn’t immediately apparent for Chiong upon retirement.
“All I had dreamt of was being a champion jockey. That was my mindset, that is all I thought about, just keep winning. I never thought about retiring, I just wanted to keep riding,” she says.
“But once I accepted it was time, I was quite positive. Everything for me is about looking forward, I never regret the past, so I thought ‘I can’t become a professional jockey, what can I do?’ My heart told me, ‘I love horses, I should do something related to horses’.
“First I thought about becoming a riding teacher, or maybe going back to the Club to become an assistant trainer. Then one day I had lunch with an owner and he said “I have a permit, can you buy me a horse?”
“So I said ‘OK’, and that is how I started.”
The first horse Chiong sourced was Highly Proactive, purchased out of a Benchmark 65 at Riccarton in New Zealand, it reached a rating of 89 with four wins and has collected HK$5.5 million (US$700,000) in prizemoney. Chiong has channeled her competitive instincts and work ethic into her new vocation, and has secured five more horses, including Class 3 winners Rising From Ashes and Capital Star, plus two-time winner Sun Of Makfi.
For Chiong, racing had never been about fame, it was the love of the animal that had drawn her in. There weren’t any horses where she grew up in the concrete jungle of Tsuen Wan, but the first time she saw a horse, while on holidays in mainland China, she wanted to climb on.
“There were some pony rides, I was very small, and I begged to ride,” she says. “I wasn’t scared at all and I told the guy he didn’t need to lead me, I could handle it, and started riding around on my own. My parents were freaking out.”