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Neil Callan: ‘Iron Man’ jockey keen to show his improvement upon return to UK after 11 years in Hong Kong |  Race News

Neil Callan believes he is returning to the UK as a better jockey than he left and is eager to prove himself against the best young stars.

Ireland-born Callan, 42, ended an 11-year association with running in Hong Kong this summer, returning to the UK to prioritize his family.

After riding his first winner in Hong Kong in 2010, Callan moved to full-time four years later, riding a total of 282 winners for over £ 30million and earning the nickname ‘Iron Man’.

“It’s nice to be home,” Callan told Sky Sports Racing. “I moved my family off these coasts and to Hong Kong, but I didn’t expect to be there for another 10 years. I kept riding and it got better.

“My kids are a little older now and maybe one of them wants to be a jockey, so we have to be in this country to be able to move forward. Now it’s my turn to follow them.

“I feel very lucky the way things turned out. I’ve been riding for 20 years and Hong Kong is the hardest place I have ever ridden. It’s sink or swim.

“It’s the number one elite sport in Hong Kong and it has helped me improve my fitness and my diet. I feel like I’ve improved in every aspect.

“Jockeys are athletes and you have to work like one. You have to evolve with the times.”

Callan smiles after winning the 2013 Gimcrack Stakes in York on Kevin Ryan’s Astaire

Prior to his move to Hong Kong, Callan had forged strong relationships with British coaches including Kevin Ryan, Michael Jarvis, Karl Burke and Roger Varian.

Callan looks forward to the prospect of rediscovering old faces, while also taking on many new names on the track.

“I kept in touch with a lot of my contacts that I had before,” Callan said. “There are a lot of great owners who contacted once they knew I was coming back. Hopefully we can rekindle these relationships and regain the strength that we left.

“I’ve been riding in the UK for over 20 years so I know what it is.

“When you do this kind of work you have to make a living, but coming back is more about proving myself and showing everyone that I’ve improved. I want to prove that I can do it.

“From the previous generation, Frankie is pretty much the only one left.

“I have kept in touch with British and Irish racing while I was away and there are some great young kids there.

“There is a changing of the guard, but it’s natural in any environment. It’s something I’m ready for and looking forward to.”

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