Andrea Atzeni bids to continue excellent season with LONGINES HKIR success

Maddy Playle

07/12/2023 12:37

Andrea Atzeni has 13 winners for the season.
Andrea Atzeni has 13 winners for the season.

Andrea Atzeni has hit the ground running in Hong Kong and will bid to underline his potential as one of the brightest talents in the weighing room with two rides at the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) at Sha Tin on Sunday (10 December).

The jockey won the Group 1 Prix Morny aboard Vandeek in August but made the decision to depart Great Britain for Hong Kong shortly afterwards and he has already made an immediate impact with the locals in the first few months of his initial stint.

Atzeni has been able to draw on his experience from when he was licenced in Hong Kong during the 2014/15 season and on the weekend he will bid to win a Group 1 in an eighth different racing jurisdiction.

“It’s going pretty good,” he said after riding trackwork. “I’ve been here for just over three months. It took a bit of time to settle in with the time difference and getting to know the track and the trainers. I’ve had three doubles since I’ve been here and ridden 13 winners.

“I’ve adapted to the racing style a lot quicker than I thought. It’s completely different from the European style of racing, it’s much sharper. The average races are from 1000m to 1600m, with only a few over 1800m or 2000m and that’s as far as you go. Everything happens a lot quicker here and Happy Valley is very sharp.

“You’ve got to be mentally quite strong. It’s a very tight system, there are only so many horses, trainers and jockeys. It’s tough anywhere in the world but I can’t complain.”

The focus on tempo and positioning is not the only thing Atzeni has had to get used to, as Hong Kong’s jockeys are responsible for sourcing their own rides. However, he has quickly discovered he has an edge over some of his weighing room colleagues.

“I had a guy called Roy that the Club provided to help me find rides in the first three months,” he said. “Now I’m starting to do it on my own - it’s different because I’ve always had an agent. You have to keep an eye on entries.

“One of the good things is I can do pretty much any weight so if I get an offer for a good ride I can just take it without having to worry about that, because a lot of trainers can book you two or three weeks in advance for a horse.

“The Group races here are handicaps so a horse can carry 8st 3lb, which I can do, whereas other jockeys have to wait until they can commit, so that works to my advantage sometimes.”

The Italian-born jockey is hoping his promising start in Hong Kong extends to Sunday’s headline meeting, when he will partner six horses including Nimble Nimbus in the HK$36 million LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) and Lucky With You in the HK$26 million LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).

“Nimble Nimbus ran very well the last day,” he said of the Ricky Yiu-trained five-time winner. “It’s a big step up in grade and he’s got to improve on the ratings quite a bit but he’s a consistent horse, I just hope he runs well."

Atzeni has ridden Lucky With You on both his starts since joining Frankie Lor's stable and believes his attitude can stand him in good stead against the likes of Lucky Sweynesse, Highfield Princess and Mad Cool.

“Lucky With You is the same," he said. "He’s a very straightforward horse. I won a Class 2 on him and he ran okay last time. They’re two outside chances, it would be nice to pick up some pieces.”

Featured News