Lyle Hewitson’s six-month stint at Sha Tin didn’t pan out exactly as he hoped, but to show the quality of the man, he was still smiling as he walked out of the jockeys’ room on Sunday.
A two-time champion in South Africa, the 22-year-old was never able to build any real momentum after a two-week suspension (incurred in his home country) derailed him early in the season.
Hewitson wasn’t afforded many opportunities after that and has been forced to battle on a host of long shots, finishing his contract with three wins, nine seconds and 11 thirds from 251 rides and a tick over HK$7.3 million in prize money.
In many ways, his day on Sunday – nine rides for a second on Family Leader (at $81), a third with Larson (at $40) and a fourth aboard Happy Alumni (who started at $7.3 but was a late pick-up ride) – summed up his time in Hong Kong.
The overall results belie his ability, but he is not one to look back with anger or frustration. “It’s been a test of character, so I’ve learned a lot about myself but obviously I’ve had to improve as a rider as well,” Hewitson told the Post. “It will stand me in good stead for the future.
“So, looking back, although maybe not results-wise, it’s been a positive time.
“I’ve had an optimistic view of things rather than carrying my head on the floor, so I’ve gone about it the right way and whatever the future holds, I know it will be successful.”
Hewitson wasted no time beginning his next adventure – a two-month contract in Japan. He flew there on Monday, had to go through all the paperwork (undergoing a medical, setting up a bank account etc) yesterday before two days of trackwork at the Miho training centre.
Hewitson then goes into lockdown on Friday night before the weekend’s cards, where he has secured a Group 2 mount on Sunday.
“I can’t wait to sit on some good stock and get some confidence back in my riding,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a good move to experience something new and succeed a bit more.”
Hewitson hopes to return to Hong Kong for another stint down the road and is particularly thankful to those who kept backing him.
“It’s very easy to be negative towards somebody that’s not having a lot of success,” he said. “But I think everyone in Hong Kong has been really good to me and it’s helped keep my spirits up.” – South China Morning Post