OUR MEMORIES
Boycott, Michael (1923 – 2008)


 

Icon of China Racing

 

1923, Michael Boycott was born in Tientsin.

 

His father had come to North China as sales agent for Morris Oxford and Morris Cowley cars.

 

Michael was a dashing figure in the expatriate community after having completed his education.

 

His speaking was effortlessly fluent Mandarin with a perfect integration to the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Tientsin and Peking.

 

Blue-eyed Michael Boycott was one of the real old “China Hands.”

 

 

In China

 

1939, The Tientsin Race Club had once again broken its rules to allow Michael Boycott to race from the age of 16.

 

He was soon to be seen in the saddle on most available opportunities around ‘Paomachang’ (racecourse) in Peking and courses variously along the China Coast.

 

His name was shown in Annual Race Meetings held in such places as Shanghai, Canton, Hong Kong and Tientsin.

 

Michael showed flair in the saddle and became an accomplished amateur rider.

 

He rapidly became a popular jockey, seldom having less than three wins a day, and riding for all the best owners.

 

He had good understanding of his mounts, knew what they could do, and tried to put them in their races where they could do it.

 

 

In Hong Kong

 

1945, Michael Boycott moved from the North to Hong Kong after the Japanese surrender.

 

He was quickly to make his impression in the Happy Valley amateur racing.

 

1948, Boycott on BLACK MARKET went Once Round in 1.38. BLACK MARKET was the year’s best investment, collecting $16,250 for six wins.

 

He was always a steady and competent rider, and won many of the “plum” races such as Kwang Tung Handicap, or Stewards’ Cup.

 

1948-01-19, the inaugural P & O Cup race was won by Owner Lai Im Tong’s FIFTH ALARM with rider Mr Boycott.

 

1953, the Queen‘s Coronation Cup was won by Willie Stewart’s BEN LOMOND, ridden by Michael.

 

“They don’t run many Queen‘s Coronation Cups, so there’s not many riders to win them” he said.

 

1953-12-12, he won The Hong Kong Autumn Champions on BEN LOMOND again, who accounted easily for the well-backed FIREFLY (Mr Pote Hunt).

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Boycott happily seized the opportunity after taking careful consideration when he was offered work with the Jockey Club.

 

He was popular with Stewards and owners, he knew the trainers and he was probably glad to get out of race riding and into a job he knew would give him both pleasure and fulfilment.

 

1968, he was appointed as Secretary of HKJC.

 

He was able to speak from both sides in Club discussions, not only as an administrator but also as a horseman with grass-roots contact with those most involved, the owners and jockeys.

 

1969年, he recommended Brian Kan Ping Chee to apply and got Kan’s first job as a riding boy in HKJC.

 

He took satisfaction in running the Shan Kwong stables the way he thought they should be run – on good old-fashioned, commonsense and practical lines that everybody understood, no matter trainer or mafoo.

 

1970’s, he envisioned the enormous success the new track would become once the decision had been taken to go ahead with the Sha Tin project.

 

He was appointed as Clerk of the Course, responsible for all stables administration, including security.

 

He proved a stern Clerk of the Course and he imposed discipline on track proceedings.

 

He raised training standards to those comparable with training establishments elsewhere.

 

1980 June, Michael Boycott went into retirement to England with his daughter.

 

2004, he retired from HKJC Voting Member.

 

2008, he passed away in England.

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Michael Boycott was very straight-forward, selfless, did the work with great efficiency.

 

His blue eyes sparkle with fond memories of his life-time in the Far East.

 

Michael Boycott is immortal in the history of Hong Kong horse racing.

 

 

REFERENCE

 

His career proves an old saying:

 

“The good riders in the China races knew — and had to know — more of horses and horsemanship than riders elsewhere.”

 

 

 

RELATED LINK

 

Boycott, Michael – video showcase

Boycott, Michael – photo gallery

 

Acknowledgement to Mr Philip Johnston and Mr Noel McCaffrey for supplying and verifying data.

 

 

 


 

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