Lyle Hewitson set for a spell in Japan

Lyle Hewitson is flanked by former South African multiple champion jockeys Anton Marcus (left) and Pierre Strydom in a group photo taken in 2016. Photo: Michele MacDonald

Dual South African champion jockey Lyle Hewitson will continue his Far East odyssey in Japan next month on a two-month temporary licence for the Japan Racing Association.

The 22-year-old, currently world-ranked 102, has endured a frustrating time in Hong Kong this season with just three winners from 225 rides and a 140-ride drought before he finally got off the mark on December 29, according to Horse Racing Planet.

Things have been looking up in recent weeks but Hewitson had already made his application to the JRA and is keen to test himself in another red-hot riding environment.

“I’m going to Japan on a two-month contract,” Hewitson told the South China Morning Post. “It’s a massive opportunity and hence why I didn’t extend my Hong Kong stay at this stage.

“At the time of making my application I had one winner here and obviously things were tough,” he went on. “Obviously it’s hard to leave when things are picking up, but I’m sure Japan will go well and hopefully the Hong Kong Jockey Club brings me back here in the not too distant future.”

Overseas riders such as Oisin Murphy, Christophe Lemaire and Mirco Demuro have thrived riding at JRA tracks, while record-breaking French female rider Mickaelle Michel is also doing well on the second-tier National Association of Racing [NAR] circuit.

The powerful Northern Farm operation will have first call on Hewitson’s services when he goes to Japan next month.

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