At 40, Weichong Marwing might be expected to contemplate retirement, or switch to the training ranks, but these options are a million miles away from the jockey’s thoughts, writes JEFF ZERBST, who interviewed him in Sydney last week.
“To be honest, I’ve never thought about stopping riding,” he told me on the weekend. “We all have to one day, but this is what I enjoy doing. I’m now in my third stint in Hong Kong and my wife and two boys are happy there. On we go!”
On Saturday afternoon, Marwing rode Masquerader for David Payne in the Gr. 2 Stan Fox Stakes at Randwick. The next day he was back in Hong Kong, booting home 6-1 chance, Winning Edge, in the ninth race at Sha Tin for David Ferraris.
The jockey, who has also ridden with success in England, the USA, Dubai and Singapore, says the game’s been good to him wherever he’s been. South Africa, however, is still where his fondest memories lie.
“I am a great believer in the SA racing industry,” he says. “Anyone who tells you it’s booming would be lying, but I think it will pick up again. When you’ve got people of the calibre of Barry Irwin and Markus Jooste investing in the industry, you know it’s got a strong future.”
Weichong keeps a keen eye on the fortunes of his brother, Weiho, a trainer at Turffontein, and he maintains close contact with SA racing friends and luminaries.
“I speak to Mike de Kock a fair bit,” says the top SA trainer’s ex-stable jockey. “Now that I’m in a different riding jurisdiction, it’s difficult to take rides for him or others that aren’t nearby. I’m subject to restrictions in Hong Kong. But we talk.”
Marwing well remembers his visit to Melbourne where he partnered the De Kock-trained Greys Inn in the Melbourne Cup and its lead-up races.
“We ran fourth in the Yalumba Stakes but he didn’t shape after that. In retrospect, he might not have been the right horse for Australia.
“I found that experience enjoyable and valuable. Every country has a different way of doing things and you learn wherever you go.”
Australia’s lack of false rails isn’t something he finds concerning.
“It’s the same in Hong Kong,” he says. “My belief is that if you’re on the right horse you usually find a way to win.”
One horse that Marwing found it easy to win on was Asiatic Boy, the Mike de Kock-trained galloper who brought the rider his second United Arab Emirates Derby.
Wikipedia has him saying that Asiatic Boy is the best horse he’s ridden, but Marwing says he was quoted out of context.
“I said he was the best horse that I was then associated with,” explains the hoop. “Certainly he is the best I’ve ridden on sand. But, overall, I’d lean towards Horse Chestnut. He was a great horse to ride and he did extraordinary things.”
Mawing rode at Randwick at the request of Masquerader’s joint owner, Ken Leung, who raced the 3yo colt’s stallion, Lucky Owners (NZ), a son of Danehill.
“Mr. Leung wanted me to ride him today,” Marwing told me. “He is passionate about Lucky Owners and his offspring. I was very happy to take the ride, and it was great to team up with David Payne again.
“I visited David’s stables in Rosehill yesterday. He has a very nice set-up up there and it’s good to see him doing so well in Australia.”
Payne is one of several top trainers that Marwing has ridden for during the years, and it’s people like these that the jockey will seek to emulate if he ever turns his hand to training.
“If I could take just a little bit of what each has to offer, I’d be well set for a training career,” he comments.
“But not now! I’m still loving it in the saddle.”
The next day I flick on the TV and there’s Marwing coming from the clouds to score aboard Winning Edge at Sha Tin and returning, beaming, to the No. 1 box.
It’s obvious that Weichong Marwing is exactly where he should be.