OUR MEMORIES
Lam hung-fie 1938-2015


From Trainers Blood Line; For Runners Brood Fine

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1938-07-20, Lam Hung-fie was born in Hong Kong .

His father, Lam Wan-leung,was a noted trainer in Shanghai.

So was his uncle, Lam Wan-fuk, and his grand uncle Wong Ah-sze, they had been trainers in Hong Kong too.

He spent the wartime in Shanghai with childhood memories filled with horses and talk of horses.

Lam Wan-leung learned his trade the hard way from Wong Ah-sze, starting off as a humble stable groom.

Graduated to work riding and then he became a trainer‘s assistant.

These was in much the same way as his son later learned the business in Hong Kong.

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

1947

Lam wan-leung was a stalwart of the old amateur days.

In the exodus from Shanghai after WW II prior to the liberation, Lam Wan-leung naturally gravitated to Hong Kong for a trial.

Jockey Raymond H C Pih’s suggested that Lam come to Hong Kong to train for the then leading owner Mr. Li Lan-sang, father of Alan Li.

Finally, employed by HKJC as trainer, Lam Wan-leung decided to make the move to the south.

 

1950

The famous training family from Shanghai wasted no time in winning their laurels in their new home.

Through the decade, Lam Wan-leung was always in the top bracket on the trainers’ performance list.

Lam Hung-fie, nicknamed as Ah-Fie was very close with horses due to the influence by his father.

But his future was not confirmed till he was eighteen and his schooling was completed.

Ah-Fie decided that he too opted to make a career out of racing.

However nothing was handed to him on a plate. First he had to learn to ride and prove his worth around the stable, as he was not formally employed by HKJC.

So he worked as unpaid apprentice to his father.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

1959

Lam Hung Fei was employed by HKJC, but very much on the bottom rung.

He began as a novice mafoo and then became a mafoo and a riding boy.

 

1960

When Hong Kong racing was still amateur and there were not too many restrictions.

Lam worked for other stables as well as his father’s.

He worked for a Portuguese trainer and Shanghaiese trainer Wong Ah-sze, the latter was his grand-uncle.

Both taught him a lot and shaped his early racing years.

Director of racing Philip Johnston recalled:

“I remember in the 1960s when he was with his father and the Club took an interest in him. It was before we turned professional. In the end he was given a licence but after quite a long time as a stable assistant.”

 

1970

Hong Kong racing just before professionalization, Lam was a riding boy in the Australian trainer Rod Turvey stable for two years.

 

1972

After HKJC turned professional, Lam was working in the same capacity for George Moore.

It was as well for George too that he had someone like Ah-Fie around to advise on the Hong Kong aspects of training, particularly managing the mafoos.

Soon, Ah-Fie’s low-key, temperate counsellling defused a potentially explosive situation when early in his career here.

George Moore was accused of assaulting a mafoo but later settled the issue by the help of Ah-Fie.

It was also while riding work for George Moore that Ah-Fie became involved with SUPER WIN.

Riding him regularly as a griffin, patiently bringing his along,

SUPER WIN was initially very backward, Ah-Fie formed a high opinion of the horse and informed his boss accordingly.

Initially George Moore was skeptical, but in his second season SUPER WIN took flight, from Class Four.

The champion eventually promoted to Class One and the rest as they say is history.

 

1974

From George Moore Lam Hung-fie moved to Peter Supple.

Next three years worked happily as his No. 2. culminating with the success of the gallant little filly CORVETTE ridden by Phillippe Paquet in the Derby.

Bill Hartack also piloted her to land a few other trophy races before, all prepared by Ah-Fie in the morning track-work.

 

1978

It was still as No. 2. that Lam Hung-fie was assigned to then new trainer Arthur Ward.

But it came a chance for Ah-Fie when Albert Hui was Ward’s assistant trainer as well.

Hui had good performance when he was the jockey riding for Lam Wan-leung in the amateur era.

Though working only three months for Ward, Hui decided to leave for America due to family decision.

Arthur requested Ah-Fie become his replacement immediately.

For eight years both men have enjoyed a most successful working relationship.

“I must say Arthur has been very good to me, he’s looked after me like a son. And I have learnt a lot from him.

But an assistant trainer must know his place, there is only ever one boss in the yard .

I was always careful to defer to Arthur in talking to owners, although frequently Arthur would ask me to do the talking.

But you can’t have one man saying one thing and another man another,” observed Ah-Fie matter-of-factly.

 

“Two people influenced me most,” Lam said. “My father, obviously, since he initiated me into the world of racing.

But more so, my true teacher and patron was Arthur Ward. He taught me everything I know and I owe him a debt for the rest of my life, and George Moore too.”

 

1984-1985 season

Lam Hung-fie became a full licensed trainer of HKJC.

The granting of his full trainer‘s license was the high point of his life.

 

Lam Hung-fie Stable record:

Season —– Wins —– Total Stakes

1985-1986 — 10 — $1,051,416

1986-1987 — 31 — $4,063,500

1987-1988 — 29 — $4,377,825

1988-1989 — 29 — $5,868,245

1989-1990 — 26 — $6,217,510 — $6,403,280.00 (HKJC official Trainer Statistics)

1990-1991 — 15 — $5,018,273

1991-1992 — 7 — $2,527,725

1992-1993 — 9 — $3,298,925

1993-1994 — 18 — $6,265,188 — $6,265,187.50 (HKJC official Trainer Statistics)

1994-1995 — 11 — $4,417,700

1995-1996 — 14 — $4,642,594

1996-1997 — 7 — $3,454,480 — $3,454,485.00 (HKJC official Trainer Statistics)

1997-1998 — 4 — $2,496,015

1998-1999 — 4 — $2,772,516.50

14 seasons as trainer

Totally 214 winners saddled

 

Trophy races including:

1986-1987

1987-01-01_4 Tony Cruz WILLIAMSBURG – Chinese Club Cup

1987-04-18_4 Tony P H Chan CLEAN SWEEP – Kukri Trophy

 

1988-1989

1989-02-08_3 Tony Cruz GERRNAS – Hong Kong Classic Trial

 

1989-1990

1990-04-16_6 Mitsuhiko Michikawa SUPER BULL – Kukri Trophy

 

1990-1991

1991-03-02_5 Basil Marcus STEEL SUPREMO – Stewards Cup

 

Not surprisingly, Lam’s training methods closely resembled Arthur.

“Ward’s forte was to trainer horses seriously.

Working them very hard and keeping them fit for a long time.”

“As far as training methods are concerned, I think Arthur Ward was second to none. His horses were always in peak condition because he had worked them really hard.”

 

Lam admitted that he modified slightly what he had learned from Ward.

“Some Expatriate trainers who came to Hong Kong only for a few years tended not to try and save their horses.

They rather train to win no matter what. But as a local trainer, I try to win some purse money for my owners every season.

I don’t want owners to keep their horses with me for just one or two seasons, but four or five.

That’s why as I gain experience, I am doing things a little differently from when I started —- then I had to win to get horses.”

 

As for horses switching stables, Ah-Fie said he had seen enough not to be surprised anymore, jokingly rating that the Lams had been in racing for three generations.

“Owners come and go. I would never go out of my way to poach other trainers’ horses. Horses come to my stable from my own owners.”

 

“It all seems a long, long time ago now. I have been with horses ever since I was very young and before officially started with the Jockey Club.

l remember horses from very early days and I never thought I would be doing anything else.

It wasn’t as if l was going to go and be something outside racing, I just wanted to be part of it.

It was what I always wanted to do, just train horses. I like that side of it, rather than going out meeting owners and having dinners and all that.

I just want to get on with training them and getting them to win races.” he said.

 

1999-03-24

The HKJC Licensing Committee noted that trainer H F Lam had withdrawn his application for a Trainer’s Licence for the 1999/2000 Season, but would continue to train until the end of the current season.

 

The Committee further noted that trainer H F Lam had accepted a position as a Stable Supervisor at the Beas River Country Club with effect 1 July 1999.

 

 

SUMMARY

 

1986-1987, Lam Hung-fie was the Wong Choi Cup winning trainer.

He was born into the local racing scene and knew no other way of life.

He chose racing as his career at an early age.

Stable hand, riding boy and assistant trainer, Lam made his way slowly up the established ladder with the Jockey Club taking an overall interest.

 

Ah-Fie had some excellent riding talent at his disposal in his relatively short senior training career.

He re-introduced St Leger winning jockey Philip Robinson to the local scene.

Globe-trotting Tony Cruz then linked up with Ah-Fie in the season after the Robinson.

Tony P H Chan, the coming up champion jockey also scored for Ah-Fie.

1988-1989, Ah-Fie formed a new partnership with his stable jockey Julio Pezua.

Ah-Fie did enjoy some good times with Julio Pezua.

The pint-sized Peruvian was a big hit with Hong Kong fans and media.

But his style of never-say-die riding did not always endear him to the Stewards.

Other jockeys with Ah-Fie were Australian Neil Williams and Darren Gauci.

There have been highlights to his career and he has been responsible for adding at least one important personality to the local scene – champion jockey Basil Marcus.

The South African star was the last contracted jockey for Ah-Fie.

But he had sadly seen his stable numbers dwindled over the final few seasons of his trainer career.

 

Ah-Fie recalled vividly when he had a stable of 60 horses.

“It’s not easy in Hong Kong. There are a lot of factors and it is difficult to keep owners happy. But I have had some good years.”

 

2015-08-17, Lam Hung-fie passed away due to illness since his retirement.

He was mourned by his friends and colleagues in the racing circle.

 

 

REFERENCE

 

Mr Johnston remarked in FaceBook:

“Dear old Ah-Fie, he was a good man and his horses always looked well I will never forget seeing him roll out of the gates when the starter let them go not seeing him in the gate ( he was a starting gate handler then but nearly a goner!! RIP my friend we will all miss you Philip J.”

 

 

 

RELATED LINK

 

Photo Gallery

 

Video Showcase

 

Shanghai Race Club – 《RacingMemories.HK》

 

 

Acknowledgment to Mr Leung chun-sek for relevant data.

Acknowledgment to Mrs Lam hung-fie for offering relevant records.

 

 

 


 

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