Jockey Scarlet So has big dreams – including one day riding alongside Joe Moreira and Zac Purton in her homeland, Hong Kong – but is currently focused on making a success of her second South Australian visit.
Scarlet is apprenticed to the Leon Macdonald/Andrew Gluyas yard and comes to Adelaide from Hong Kong, via Tasmania.
The 24-year-old had been riding in the Apple Isle for just over a year, but crossed the mainland after racing was shut down in Tasmania early during the coronavirus pandemic crisis.
However, she is no stranger to South Australia, having spent several months “two or three years ago” working as a track rider for trainer Tony McEvoy.
“After I got back to Hong Kong from working at Tony McEvoy’s I got asked if I really wanted to be an apprentice,” Scarlet said.
“Of course I said yes, but I knew it would be hard to get trials in Hong Kong, and it was hard.
“So I went to Tasmania.”
Apprenticed to the Wells stable, Scarlet had her first race ride after “about six months” and went on to ride 27 winners in Tasmania. She saluted at just her fourth race start, aboard a horse with a familiar Tasmanian name, Gee Gees Can Tell.
Even though her move to South Australia was brought about by the coronavirus, she believes the change of scenery will accelerate her development as a jockey.
“After they suspended the races over there in Tasmania, Hong Kong (Jockey Club) wanted me to continue my racing and getting my experience, so I came here,” she said.
“They only race once a week over there, but here it’s quite good, because it’s probably two or three times a week.” Scarlet, who claims 2kg at country meetings and 3kg at provincial meetings, is enjoying her time in Adelaide, and is grateful for the support of those around her, including Leon and Andrew, stable staff, fellow track workers and star SA hoop Jason Holder.
“Jason has taught me a lot and given me some good advice,” she said.
“I’m really enjoying it.”
The list of current Australian riders she particularly admires includes fellow local apprentice Kayla Crowther, Raquel Clark and Jamie Kah, and her ultimate goal is to ride in the super-competitive Hong Kong scene.
“I watch Zac and Joe a lot,” she said.
“They’ve got different styles, but they are the top jockeys over there and hopefully I will be back in Hong Kong to ride in a race next to them.
“But I have to prove myself good enough to be there. I feel like if I was able to ride I’d be very lucky, because they haven’t got any females at the moment.”
Her boss, Leon, says his newest apprentice is giving herself the best chance of success.
“She’s a nice kid and she’s trying hard,” he said.
“We’ll be pushing to get her rides provincially in the next few weeks.”