Dedication in sport - if you could bottle it you could retire immediately.

Absolute dedication comes from a number of avenues.

In riding horses, the desire to better yourself is a major factor.

It led to Hong Kong apprentice Alvin Ng riding his first New Zealand winner, Broadway Miss, at Te Aroha yesterday.

The teenage Ng is from the same yearly class as fellow Hong Kong apprentice jockey Vincent Ho, who has been a revelation for the Andrew Scott stable in Matamata this season.

Ho and Ng prove one fact - natural ability will take you a long way, but having natural ability coupled with an absolute desire to be the best you can possibly be will take you all the way.

The Asian pair are apprenticed to the Hong Kong Jockey Club which farms out its young learning riders to various racing precincts worldwide for about a year.

In New Zealand, pretty much any teenager who believes they're light enough and wants the racing lifestyle can become an apprentice jockey.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has around 1000 applications a year and takes in between 20-30.

The difference that makes is that those who are accepted know they're extremely lucky and make the most of that luck.

Lance Noble, who trains yesterday's winner Broadway Miss, cannot speak highly enough of Alvin Ng.

"He and Vincent are two of the most impressive young men you could meet.

"Because they've beaten a lot of others to get a start in racing, they're hungry for success from day one."

Vincent Ho came straight from Hong Kong to New Zealand, but Alvin Ng spent time last year in a stable in Gosford before the Australian Government, inexplicably, withdrew the visas for visiting riders, which is how he ended up with Lance Noble.

He rode a couple of winners in Australia from around 100 rides.

The benefit of sending young riders around the world can be gauged by Andrew Scott's previous Hong Kong apprentice Derek Leung.

As he was learning in New Zealand, Leung looked useful without appearing to be top class, certainly no more promising than Ho and Ng.

But since he has been back in Hong Kong Leung is a powerful force.

"I know we breed youngsters bigger and bigger and that they have a lot more to choose from to be jockeys in Asian countries because of their size," says Noble.

"Perhaps because of that these Hong Kong boys appreciate the chance they've got.

"No disrespect to our riders, but few have the real dedication these two boys have got."

Former champion rider Lance O'Sullivan still oversees Wexford Stables where Andrew Scott trains and is a major influence on Vincent Ho.

Lance Noble recently asked O'Sullivan if he'd mind having a few quiet words with Ng to help, which O'Sullivan agreed to.

"Vincent told Lance: 'Boss, I don't think you should be doing that, I have to ride against him and I don't think it's right'.

"And these two guys are best mates.

"That's how dedicated they are."

Lance Noble had a promising day with his horses - Broadway Miss finally broke through for the win she'd been promising and in the following race Mercury Miss came back to something like the form she'd displayed prior to a below-par run at her previous outing.

But the Matamata trainer got more of a thrill seeing his apprentice win.

"These boys are hugely popular here in Matamata and I got a big kick out of this win."


The TAB has opened up Prince Of Wales the hot $3 favourite for tomorrow's group one $200,000 Levin Classic at Otaki.

The TAB sees the impressive Matamata colt as so dominant it has him well clear of the next fancied runner, The Hombre at $7.

Prince Of Wales yesterday drew barrier No 1, probably not perfect for a back-running type on the Otaki track, but certainly better than No 16.

The fillies St Germaine and Zarzuela, joint third favourites on $8, have drawn gates 6 and 8.

Fifth favourite Kaaptan is out at No 12 and is rated a $10 hope.

Craig Grylls will be reunited with Prince Of Wales tomorrow.

Grylls was riding at the New Zealand Cup Meeting the day Prince Of Wales won at Tauranga for Michael Coleman.

The country's leading rider, apprentice James McDonald has been voted the Waipa District's Sports Person Of The Year.

McDonald was, as expected, declared Young Sports Person Of The Year, but the overall major award came as a shock to the teenager at Tuesday night's awards' function.

The highly talented young jockey beat off All Blacks and a number of sporting icons for the title, which last year went to Rob Waddell.

McDonald is currently suspended.