It seems inevitable that Tye Angland will win a Group One soon enough, but the quiet achiever of the jockey ranks is adamant another underrated talent in Real Specialist is also bound to win at the top level.
Angland combines with the John Size-trained six-year-old in tomorrow's Group Two Jockey Club Mile and with the traditionally strong local mile stocks in a lull, Real Specialist seems a possible candidate to pick up the slack for team Hong Kong.
"Hopefully, we can both break that Group One maiden status together one day," Angland said.
With Ambitious Dragon sidelined indefinitely and Real Specialist's stablemate Glorious Days to be produced first-up on international day, the locals' former iron-clad grip on the Longines Hong Kong Mile looks tenuous. Hong Kong horses have won the past seven editions of the race and tomorrow's curtain-raiser sees a nine-horse field lacking a bona fide superstar.
"It helps that there's no Ambitious Dragon and there's no Glorious Days, at least this week. Real Specialist had a little go at the big races last year, but was running into some top horses. There's none of that calibre in this race," Angland said.
In his fourth season, Angland already has 12 wins, striking at 11 per cent, and the 24-year-old seems on target to go past his personal best of 37 set in 2011-12. "I'm happy with the way I'm going. I've been getting better rides this season," he said. "I'm probably riding a bit more patiently and I've got to know the horses a lot better - but it just comes down to getting better opportunities and then making the most of them."
Angland also rides Endowing for Size in the Longines Jockey Club Cup, the consistent stayer again drawing gate one - the same starting position he had when he won the Group Three Sa Sa Ladies' Purse two weeks ago and finished runner-up in the Group One Hong Kong Derby earlier this year.
"He is at the top of his rating, and when you are racing against horses like Military Attack and California Memory, it is very hard. But I'm sure he is going to run an honest race," Angland said.
Meanwhile, champion British jockey Richard Hughes has been engaged to replace Joao Moreira in the Longines International Jockeys' Championship at Happy Valley on December 4.
Brazilian star Moreira lost his place in the star-studded line-up when he incurred a suspension at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.