Regan Bayliss, a young Australian rider picked out as a TRC Emerging Talent in 2017, has joined the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s list of star international jockeys. The 21-year-old begins his three-month licence at Sha Tin next Sunday (24 February).
Baylis, currently #121 in the TRC Global Rankings, arrives in Hong Kong with more than 350 winners already in the bag, many of them for former Hong Kong handler David Hayes.
Bayliss said during a press conference at Sha Tin today that he did not have to think twice when the Jockey Club’s Licensing Committee made an approach last month. “It wasn’t a hard decision at all,” the Queensland native said. “As a jockey, I think everyone strives to get here one day. It’s come up very early in my career but I definitely didn’t think about what I could have ridden in Australia or anything like that. I’m here to focus in Hong Kong and I’ll be giving it my best shot.”
Bayliss jetted in from Melbourne on Sunday and spent the afternoon getting acquainted with a Sha Tin race day, which included Beauty Generation and Exultant recording their latest G1 successes.
“It was a great buzz just being at Sha Tin as a spectator with some of Hong Kong’s best horses racing, and it’s going to be a whole new level riding there,” he said.
“I’ll get a better of idea of things once I start riding trackwork, but I’m very grateful to be given this opportunity by the Jockey Club and I look forward to making the most of it.”
The rider will experience his first morning’s trackwork on Tuesday and already has two rides for trainer John Moore lined up for his debut meeting on Sunday - Beauty Energy and dual sprint winner Hair Trigger.
“I’ve had a bit of support from Mr Moore for my first meeting on the 24th, which I’m very much looking forward to,” Bayliss said.
“I had a good chat with Mr Hayes and he gave me a good grounding on what to expect. It’s great to have people who have had success here to teach you a little bit. Once you get here it’s a whole different experience, but I’ve also spoken to people like Damien Oliver and Brett Prebble to try and get a heads up.”
Bayliss has already enjoyed a notable G1 partnership with Redkirk Warrior, who was favourite for the 2015 BMW Hong Kong Derby when trained by Chris So. The Hayes-trained gelding came into his own as a sprinter in Australia, winning the G1 Newmarket Handicap twice and the G1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes under Bayliss.
“Redkirk Warrior put me on the map as far as Group 1 winners go, and I was very lucky that he came along so early in my career,” he said.
Bayliss travelled to the UK to partner Redkirk Warrior in the G1 July Cup at Newmarket last summer and has also ridden in the USA and the UAE.
“I’ve had a good grounding, riding Redkirk Warrior in England and also going to America to ride on Belmont Oaks day, which was a great thrill. Getting that exposure overseas has definitely helped. I can ride light at 116lb, which should hold me in good stead, and I’m ready to give it my best shot in a very competitive environment.
“The top four jockeys here are almost the top four jockeys in the world. Zac Purton holds himself as a great rider anywhere, and Joao Moreira, but it’s not just the top four. Anyone who has a contract here you hold in high regard. I look up to a lot of people and try to take a little bit from everyone to mould my own style.”
Andrew Harding, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director, Racing, noted that Bayliss has “achieved a great deal already” and welcomed his arrival in Hong Kong as an investment in youth and the future. “Regan was born into the racing industry and has been around horses since his infancy,” he said.
Bayliss’ father, Jamie Bayliss, was a jockey and trainer, while Regan’s brother Jake Bayliss is also a successful rider in Australia.