The remarkable thing about the news that John Size has been inducted into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame is that most of his success has taken place in Hong Kong. But for a born and bred Australian to succeed so magnificently on “foreign soil” and having started his career here with only 19 horses yet went on to beat the great Ivan Allan by two to win the Hong Kong Trainers Championship in his first season, says much about the man wherever in the world he is.
As then Chief Steward of the HKJC John Schreck aka “The Sheriff” commented at the time, “I think what Mr Size has done reflects greatly on Australian racing people, for which I am very grateful.”
Not having been in Hong Kong at the time, I missed the arrival of John Size for the 2001-2002 racing season. This was after him giving up a very bright future in Sydney and challenging names like Gai Waterhouse and John Hawkes for training honours to set down roots and start his career in Hong Kong.
Shane Dye became his stable jockey and those who were here remember how theirs was a hugely successful partnership. But all eyes were on John Size- quiet, unassuming, not dazzled by the bright lights, big city, and overawed by invitations for lavish dinners from owners. He was a workaholic who is said to have preferred being with his staff in his stables and fine tuning his craft. Doing his homework. Working to succeed.
While the partnership with Shane Dye prospered, Douglas Whyte who arrived in Hong Kong a year before the Australian trainer was charting his own career course and winning three Hong Kong Jockey Premierships with very little support from John Size. That is until they came together as the Dream Team comprising a very focused and ambitious young South African rider and the genius and horsemanship of John Size.
Size, always very hands on with his horses would do much of the track work himself and their phenomenal success rate showed just how much in sync trainer and rider were. It was a perfect fit.
The duo completely dominated Hong Kong racing with The Durban Demon eventually winning thirteen consecutive Hong Kong Jockey Premierships and a number of Hong Kong’s biggest races. But nothing lasts forever.
When Douglas Whyte no longer had a role to play in what makes Size matters, the brilliant horseman turned to a new arrival in Hong Kong named Joao Moreira. They’ve become the Butch and Sundance of Hong Kong racing and a mutual admiration society.
Though this has become the A Team, we have also seen John Size turn to other riders including, after a very long wait, offering a ride to fellow Aussie Zac Purton. It was Luger in the 2015 BMW Hong Kong Derby and it gave Purton his first Hong Kong Derby win. Today, Zac Purton is no afterthought. He’s very quickly become a vital part of Team Size.
To show the giving side of John Size, he’s supported riders who needed a helping hand to get their motors running again- Brett Prebble, Olivier Doleuze and young Matthew Chadwick who, for reasons that have baffled many, lost his main support system from the Tony Cruz yard.
Possibly the most interesting and inspiring is how Olivier Delouze has undergone a renaissance period because of the rides offered to him by John Size, especially experiencing Group 1 success with DB Pin at a time when one thought this could be the last season for the popular French rider. It might still be, but for Olivier Delouze, it’s leaving on a career high.
This season has seen the John Size show grow in stature. He’s set to win his tenth trainers championship and is leading the trainers table with 77 winners- 24 winners more than who’s second to him. There’s another success story there.
He’s won over $163 million in prize money with seventeen more meetings left, has so far trained 1123 winners in Hong Kong and waiting in the wings is a stable of rising equine stars that have been wisely purchased and which should help him jumpstart next season.
We’ve also seen the emergence of John Size, mentor, with the great first season success of his former Assistant Frankie Lor.
With Lor lying second on the trainers ladder, it’s Sorcerer and Apprentice stuff which is another part of the John Size success story.
By being inducted into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame, also gained has been a wonderful international ambassador carrying his home flag wherever he goes- and wherever his horses win.
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