Brett Prebble left Australia as a self-described arrogant young jockey a decade ago to try his luck in the tough Hong Kong arena.
He returned home for a fleeting visit on Tuesday to win the Melbourne Cup on Green Moon, but said it would not be enough to tempt him to leave the Chinese territory where he has become an elite rider – and a different person.
“Hong Kong racing and having a family has made me grow up a lot,” Prebble said.
“When I left here I was young and arrogant. Hong Kong has made me a better person.
“Having my wife and kids has changed me.”
A former Victorian champion rider, Prebble answered the call from owner Lloyd Williams to ride his horse in the Cup when Craig Williams decided to stick with Dunaden.
The result was decisive with Green Moon beating Fiorente by a length with Prebble confident a long way out.
A touch of that arrogance surfaced when Prebble described his confidence before and during the race on the horse who bounced back from a comprehensive Cox Plate defeat.
“I was very confident going in,” he said.
“Without wanting to sound bad, I thought Craig over-rode him in the Cox Plate.
“He rode him to win and got going a long way out. He’s a horse that needs to relax.”
But Prebble also praised his fellow jockey, saying Williams had displayed the professionalism needed to perform as well as he has done on the world stage.
He also paid tribute to his former bosses, Terry O’Sullivan and John Meagher, who took him on after Arthur Clarke said he would never make a jockey.
“My father was determined I would be a jockey but Arthur Clarke told me when I was 13 I wouldn’t make it,” Prebble said.
“I was a bit of a ratbag as a kid but Terry O’Sullivan took me on and then picked out John Meagher as the trainer I should go to.
“They were both great for me.”
Prebble said winning the Cup was a lifelong dream but perhaps not the greatest moment of his career of which there have been many.
“I’m privileged to have won it and it’s right up there with the races I have won,” he said.
He then put his Cup reflections on hold as he went back to work to ride in the final two races on Cup day.