Michael Dee will commence his short-term riding stint in Hong Kong with three mounts at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
Starry Night, Lean Hero and Sight Hero are Dee’s first rides in the city – all for trainer David Hayes – and come fresh following his Group 1 success on Saturday (20 May) at Morphettville in Adelaide, Australia aboard Royal Merchant in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m).
Hailing from a racing tradition in New Zealand, Dee is the son of a former trainer. He’s ridden over 700 winners and has Group 1 victories in the Caulfield Cup, Victoria Derby, Blue Diamond Stakes, Coolmore Classic, The Goodwood and Australian Guineas (twice).
“It is very exciting. It’s going to be certainly a different challenge but it’s exciting. It’s obviously going to be very different but at this time in Australia, apart from the Queensland Carnival, it’s pretty much a quiet period in Victoria – it’s certainly a good time to be spreading my wings and having a look at Hong Kong,” Dee said.
Dee completed a two-week apprentice loan in Hong Kong before he relocated to Australia in 2015. Dee’s minimum riding weight is 113lb and his licence concludes after the fixture on 9 July at Sha Tin.
“It’s probably on every jockey’s radar to have the opportunity (to ride in Hong Kong) and I am lucky that this has come up now,” Dee said.
Dee has enjoyed success in Australia with Hayes’ sons Ben & JD; tomorrow night the in-form rider heads to Happy Valley for the second time after previously riding in a barrier trial through his apprentice loan swap.
“He’s probably been their (Ben & JD Hayes) most successful jockey and he was an obvious choice and I think he was an astute choice for Hong Kong,” Hayes said.
By Japanese sire Maurice, the Hayes-trained Lean Hero (131lb) has been assigned gate one for Dee as the horse chases for a second win and first since corrective throat surgery in early April.
“He had a run over a shorter distance and it was full of merit. He was finishing off well and I think he’s fit, he has a good barrier and he should run a good race back at the Valley,” Hayes said.
Still a colt, Lean Hero is rated 55 and boasts a sharp closing speed.
“The minor surgery certainly helped him, that’s why he’s had a bit of time between runs leading into his last run – it looks to have helped him.
“He gives me the impression that the further he goes the better he will be, he’s only a three-year-old, so we’ll probably keep him to a mile and 1800 metres this season,” Hayes said.
Dee will look to guide Starry Night (134lb) to a first win for Hayes at his first ride in Hong Kong from gate two.
“He’s in good shape, 1200 metres would probably be a bit more ideal, the 1000 metres could be a bit sharp. He’s well drawn and it’s not an overly strong race,” Hayes said.
Sight Hero (132lb) closes out Dee’s book, shooting for a third course and distance win this term.