For any apprentice rider, losing part of his or her weight allowance is a badge of honour and Jack Wong Ho-nam was only “taking the positives from it” after steering Call Me Achiever to a surprise win.
The 42-1 upset for his boss, trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak, was Wong’s 20th race win in Hong Kong and means that he rides at Happy Valley on Wednesday night with his allowance reduced from 10 pounds to seven. With the milestone comes the danger that his opportunities might suffer as a result but Wong was not seeing it that way.
“I am not too worried because there are not many apprentices and seven pounds is still quite an advantage,” he said. “So I don’t think I will lose rides. As I see it, I have gained three pounds in reputation.”
Not many race meetings that feature all-weather racing go by without Tsui scoring a victory – his tally this season now stands at an impressive seven wins from the 33 dirt races staged – and the trainer believes Call Me Achiever’s record of only previously winning over 1,000m at Happy Valley helped him.
“I know if I am another jockey in the race, I will expect Call Me Achiever to lead and weaken and that’s what happened – the other jockeys sat back off him,” Tsui explained.
“In the 1,000m races, everyone wants to lead so there is a lot more pressure but over the 1,200m today, he got no pressure because nobody thought he would run the distance anyway.”
Call Me Achiever just kept kicking to hold the late finish of Molly’s Jade Star and give Tsui another dirt winner but he’s at a loss to explain why his horses do so well on the surface.
“Maybe it’s my lucky track,” he laughed. “One thing is that all the horses handle this track OK so I like to use it. Some of my owners ask why I don’t take their horses to Happy Valley instead, but the problem is that if a horse doesn’t get around Happy Valley, you can’t correct that with one or two trials and the trials are there only once a month anyway.”
Tsui said he had not imagined that Call Me Achiever would win six races back in his early days when his forte was minor placings and many had him branded a 'non-winner'.
“But I think also Brett Prebble woke him up when he rode him, like he did with Dragon Bachelor, so we’ve already got three more wins out of him recently because of that,” Tsui said.