Fownes has high hopes for graduated Ho
Vincent Ho Chak-yiu celebrated his graduation to the senior ranks with a double, including a victory for former master Caspar Fownes, who said his protege would now face the true test of his skill as he was elevated to near-equal footing with some of the world's best riders.
Ho has made an inspirational comeback from a severely broken arm and resulting complications, and yesterday completed the journey from a "kid from Kowloon side" to senior jockey with his 70th winner.
"This will be the test - but he'll just have to come out and fire up again, with his claim down to the three pounds. I'm sure he'll do it - there's a spot here for him and, most importantly, he has got the right attitude," Fownes said. "We always continue to support our apprentices after they graduate."
Ho brought up the milestone on the Derek Cruz-trained Castle Hero and backed up two races later on Fownes' The Prince.
Both of Ho's winners were horses with lameness issues nursed to raceday on eight-day back-ups.
Unfortunately for Castle Hero he can now add bleeder to severe arthritis and roaring on the long list of medical ailments, and will subsequently spend a three-month stint on the sideline.
"He has done his job, but now we'll have to wait until January," Cruz said. "We have had a real battle with the lameness, but with treatment it appeared we had his legs right. The stable did a great job to have him right today, but now this. It was both nostrils, but it wasn't furious bleeding, so hopefully he will come back from that."
The Prince was a tough second to Owners' Pride last start, after which the sometimes fragile five-year-old was walking freely, and Fownes decided to strike while the iron was hot and back up a week later.
"We wanted to have another go while he was right," he said. "Sometimes you give a horse like that an extra week and it can backfire on you. While they're ready, you've got to take it."
Ho, who admitted to mixed feelings after his 70th win when he realised Castle Hero had bled, reprised his tactics from last week when he surged forward from gate 10 to lead on The Prince.
"I wasn't that surprised, that was a strong run last week and the form of those other horses wasn't that strong, I expected him to go close," he said.
The 22-year-old was pleased to be able to ride a winner for Fownes on his final day as an apprentice.
"He has been so supportive, I have ridden some bad races but he has always remained positive with me and helped me through," he said.
"It feels good to graduate and look to improve even more, hopefully I can get more rides from other trainers."