Poon shows great poise on and off saddle

Despite his meteoric rise, Hong Kong apprentice jockey Matthew Poon has remained a shining example of a humble young man still grounded by traditional values like friendship and respect.

We were witness to such exemplary behaviour on Sunday when the promising Adelaide-trained 23-year-old rider rode his second winner in only six rides into his short two-week at Kranji as a reward for his Dux of South Australia title.

Riding with a polish beyond his years, Poon, who opened his Singapore account with Certainly at his first meeting on Friday night, again showed the same coolness aboard $28 shot Honor. Parked in centrefield for most of the 1000m speed dash of the $35,000 Quechua 2016 Stakes, a Class 5 event, Poon launched the Mark Walker-trained mare at the right time to claim Sunday’s opener.

Matthew Poon steers Honor to a comfortable win in the first race on Sunday, picture Singapore Turf Club

Upon dismounting, there was no over-the-top exultation. Instead, Poon was more concerned about dedicating that second win to a dear friend who unfortunately just lost a loved one.

“I’d like to dedicate today’s win to my good friend Damien Wilton. His mother passed away yesterday,” said Poon.

“Damien was my rider’s agent in Adelaide and I was shocked to hear the news yesterday. This one is for you, mate.”

Poon was of course still delighted with his second winner, saying that the Rip Van Winkle mare was winning on raw ability.

“She won easily, but I don’t think she’s a 1000m mare but she won on ability today,” said the rider who
has quickly endeared himself with fans from Australia (where he was even anointed as the ‘Poon Train’) and his hometown where he is currently based since March, and is now doing the same in Singapore.

“She just can’t settle and I think she can improve further, I reckon.”

Walker was for one glad he was able to get Poon on, especially for his four-pound allowance.

“She had 59kgs on her back and as Poon was available, it was great to get him on for the two-kilo claim. It sure helped,” said the leading New Zealand trainer.

“It’s taken a while for her to put it together as it was a mental problem more than anything else.

“I think she will improve over more distance as well.”