MEET the ‘Iron Man’ jockey who is returning to UK racing after banking £37.1MILLION in Hong Kong.
Neil Callan gave up a five-bedroom house in Newmarket for an apartment on the racecourse in a city of 7.5million people 11 years ago.
Twice a runner-up in the Flat jockeys’ championship here, Callan, 42, was always good – but he has been a sensation overseas.
Joined by wife Trish and their four boys, he has turned into a money-making machine.
He won more than 280 races in 4,000 rides, 12 of them top-class Group 1s.
Some 171 of those victories came at Sha Tin racecourse, and more than 110 more at Happy Valley.
His first triumph over there was on December 27, 2010.
The £37.1m he was won since that time equates to an eye-popping £67,500 a week.
That’s the salary a Premier League player would expect.
Although it must be said that, of course, Callan has not pocketed all that cash himself – these are his racecourse winnings.
Still, he will get a healthy percentage of them, plus his rider fee and any endorsements too.
For all that cash, Callan’s meteoric rise has not come without controversy.
He successfully appealed a ban after he was wrongly alleged to have ranted at officials during a stewards’ enquiry last February.
The immediate suspension was overturned – and Callan kept banging in winners before deciding to move back to the UK at the end of their season.
It is a sign of the money abroad that shows why Callan was wise to go to the Far East.
Sean Levey, one of top jockeys in the UK, recently slammed the cash on offer here as ‘absolute peanuts’.
Callan could have no such qualms after winning so much during his 11-year stint.
But he says his ambition is now to race in the UK after taking the decision to move back.
He told The Mirror: “Ten years in Hong Kong has been an amazing experience for me and my family.
“I’ve had a lot of big success here and am very proud of what I have achieved.
“It’s the right time to go home as my kids are getting older now and I moved them all to Hong Kong for me and now it’s my turn to follow them now in whichever paths they will choose.
“The highlight of my time here was winning the QEII on Blazing Speed, what an amazingly tough genuine horse he was. He left everything out on the track for you.
“I plan to start riding back in the UK when I’ve done my licence application and hopefully carry on where I left off when I went to Hong Kong, which was a Group 1 win on Astaire.”
Explaining his decision to go abroad in the first place, Callan said: “I swapped a five-bedroom house in Newmarket for an apartment by the racecourse.
“We race two days a week and the prize money is some of the best in the world.
“I came out here with a CV with some good wins on it. Things were going pretty well in England, but I thought it was the right time to try this, and it has been very good to me ever since.”
Punters are already licking their lips at the prospect of backing his runners again.
They might not net you £37m – but you’re almost certain to pick up a few quid.
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