OUR MEMORIES
Tsai, Robert (1922-1975)


Rider of chivalry; Mentor of cavalry

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1922-12-10, Mr. Robert Tsai was born.

His grandfather Mr Tsai Shou-kee, from Beiling Village, Xiangshan District, Guangdong Province, was one of the teenagers of the inaugural Chinese Education Mission in 1872.

Their whole family was settled in Tianjin as Mr Tsai Shou-kee returned to China after his study in Yale, and was appointed to many domestic and diplomatic senior official positions.

His grandfather was a horse owner keeping a long and strong string of quality horses.

In his childhood, Robert studied in Tianjin and practiced riding at the Racecourse for over a decade.

He later graduated from St. John’s University in Shanghai.

1948, after the war, he came to Hong Kong from Shanghai and was employed by the Hop Yee Company.

By that time, he was already a competent rider.

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

1949 Mr. Tsai joined the HKJC membership and prepared to be a jockey.

1950, beginning at Happy Valley race, became a prominent figure.

1950-04-29_1, class 4, 1 mile, Novice race with a field of twelve, Robert Tsai and his cousin Chun Kit as “gold doubles” to prove its success, almost overnight, they have become a promising star.

1950-11-13_3, Robert Tsai‘s inaugural win was DIAMOND QUEEN, trained by Leskoff.

1951-05-12_3, Surrey Stakes, Robert Tsai‘s BALLERlNA was the winner for his graduation from the Novices, having won 10 times in all to qualify as Black Label Jockey.

Both of the cousins had earned high berths among the Big Ten the year after they bowed out from the Novices Class.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

1952, ‘Epsom Gyp’, a reporter, commented that:

“Robert KW Tsai has certainly possessed the kind of exceptional icy calm in facing a tight race that has stamped him as one of the most promising riders in the Colony.

Due to a long losing streak, more-than-usually confident Robert had lost plenty of his calm, and practically all of his ice.

Prompted by anxiety and worry, a self-conscious and quite diffident Robert consulted veteran rider LB Chao before the Annual Race Meeting …..

The advice was ‘shorten the stirrups, loosen the grip and forget the whip’….

How soon will hard-working determined Robert restore his full old confidence remains to be seen, but one thing is certain that he is on the road of reaching that, and in long strides too.”

 

1952-05-31_6 Robert Tsai scored his first Derby on KNOCK-DOWN, owned by Auctioneer,Mr Sousa, trained by Wong Siu Hung.

And he kept on winning a number of honorary title.

 

1954-01-30_6 Robert Tsai KNOCK-AGAIN and his cousin Chun Kit BENGAL LANCER dead-heated for the Pearce Memorial Cup.

By the photo-finish, both of the winning contenders were stable-mates trained by Wong Siu Hung.

The sweepstake hung in the balance, so two winning jockeys delivered the first and second prizes by equal share.

 

1956-01-14_8 JOHN HALIFAX’s rushed the gate, Robert fell and dislocated his shoulder.

After the recuperation he returned to regain his success in March.

1956-03-17 the second day of the Eighth meeting, he scored a treble on > B032 TELL ME TO-NIGHT, > B061 HYLAMON, and > A006 RAJA.

Race 4, TELL ME TO-NIGHT triumphed by short head with big dividend, defeating CITY OF VICTORIA.

Tsai with three wins was the most successful jockey getting the biggest round of by the racegoers.

 

Mr Tsai was promoted to seventh place on the jockey premiership.

Opinion unanimously praised Robert Tsai as the leader of the young jockeys.

His riding skills was praised as smart and efficient, especially well performed in the final stages of a race.

He was the stable jockey of Wong Siu Hung and Rodney, mounting on handsome supplies of good horses.

Mr Tsai was well regarded as the rising star with bright future.

 

1957-11-11_10 Robert Tsai on NO SURPRISE won the Valley Stakes defeating STRATHIAN.

It was Mr Tsai’s 100th wins, triumphed in the last event of the 3rd Race Meeting of that season.

 

1961-05-06_3, Robert Tsai landed the 84th Derby, on WALBROOK, owned by Wayfoong, trained by N Metrevelli.

1962-05-19_3, Robert Tsai scored the 85th Derby,on LIAR DICE, owned by P V C E Liebenschutz, trained by Lee Tin Lam.

Within ten years, three Derby victories, two in a roll, his hat-trick of the classic was a post war record of HKJC.

 

1963-11-09_3 Robert Tsai HONESTY won the Kwangtung Handicap with the hard ridding so forceful and dedicated that Mr Tsai dislocated his right shoulder again.

 

1964-1965, Mr Tsai rode altogether 33 times, landed 3 winners, 2 seconds and 5 thirds.

Later, his cotton business was too busy which induced his consideration of hanging his boots.

Also, Ms. Tsai also advised him not to ride due to the risky nature.

For these two reasons, he resolved to bid farewell to his jockey career.

1965-02-24_5 Robert Tsai‘s GOLD KNIGHT was his last win. (Trainer: T L Lee)

Maiden, 1 mile, a field of 7, odds 1.

1965-04-19_7 Robert Tsai’s >R114 BUMBLE was his last ride. (Trainer: H M Cheung).

Class 7, 1 mile 171yds for St George Cup a field of 12, odds 7.4, 5th place.

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Mr. Robert Tsai was a successful owner also.

Mr Tsai, after retirement, was employed by HKJC as a timekeeper.

1971, he was transferred as honorary assistant judge, and often passing his experience and training young riders, mentees including Eddie D C Yau.

K W Li, the apprentice of T L Lee’s stable, was the list jockey mentored by Robert Tsai.

1975-01-01_7 K W Li inaugural win AMAZON, T L Lee, in the most thrilling quartet.

The winner was owned by Tang Hsiang-chien, the father of Henry Tang.

 

Mr. Robert Tsai was very sporty and energetic.

Unlike Chun Kit, Robert was athletic versatile (other sporting talents include badminton, tennis, swimming, softball and basketball).
Mr Tsai was an all-round sportsman.

Whereas the younger cousin concentrated most of his outdoor activities on horseback.

Tsai was a born rider with a beautiful riding rhythm and a good seat.

His riding style might have been the less spectacular of the pair, but came to a close finish and you’ll find out that they are equally hard-to-beat.

Besides riding and coaching, Mr Tsai was also keen to participate in charitable activities contributing to the community.

 

1975-04-22 0:45 the renowned veteran jockey Mr. Robert Tsai passed away in the St Paul hospital.

1975-04-25 Friday, relatives and friends paid tribute to him at the Hong Kong Funeral Home.

On that day, flags of RHKJC were put at half mast as a sign of mourning and salute to Mr Tsai.

Mr. Tsai was very friendly, regarded as Mr Nice Guy.

People expressed their deepest sorrowful grief on departing his gallantry and cavalry figure.

Mr. Robert Tsai was survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters, respected by younger generations for his heroic image.

His family were subsequently living abroad, with successful careers and a love and passion for horses.

 

 

REFERENCE

 

Mr. Robert Tsai piloted 8 wins on KNOCK-DOWN, with 6 trophy victories.

Mr. Robert Tsai piloted 4 wins on RAJA.

 

Mr Robert Tsai‘s grandfather Mr Tsai Shou-kee, has variant spellings & other names Tsai Chen Chi Tsai Shen Shi Tsoy Sin Kee Shou Ki Tsai. (1860-10-09 Guangdong — 1933-05-23 Tianjin) .

1875-1879, at age 14, he studied at Hartford West Middle Public School, CT; Hartford Public High School.

1879-04-17 he was one of ten students appointed to give an oration (Hartford Daily Courant, Mar. 4, 1879, p. 2). He gave an impassioned speech on “The Opium Trade” attacking the British trade policies towards China, which was very well received.

1879-1881, he studied in Yale College, New Haven, Connecticut.
1897 he involved in the founding of Beiyang School, became its first president, Aug. 1902-June 1903 and again, 1908-1910. 1907 he was Customs Commissioner at Tianjin; Chief of Customs at Newchwang, and Daotai. 1911 he was the senior deputy vice president of the Board of Foreign Affairs in Peking; 1912, he declined the governorship of Mukden, 1913 also declined post of Chinese Minister to the United States.

 

 

 

RELATED LINK

 

Photo Gallery

 

Video Showcase

 

 

Acknowledgment to Mr Peter Yuen and Mr Kelvin Lee for relevant data.

Acknowledgment to Mr Donald Tsai for offering relevant records and photos.

 

 

 


 

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