Matthew Chadwick’s comeback for a long lay-off has been brought forward four days to tonight’s Happy Valley meeting after Keith Yeung Ming-lun was injured in a nasty incident before a barrier trial on Tuesday morning.
Chadwick, sidelined since early October after suffering a right knee injury and undergoing reconstructive surgery, received a full medical clearance yesterday and was slated to return at Sunday’s Sha Tin meeting, but Yeung’s mishap means he will now have five rides tonight.
“I’m as ready as I can be,” said Chadwick, who only returned to riding in trials last Friday. “Riding trackwork and trials can only get you close to full fitness, the only way to get fully fit is to ride in races, so the first few rides will be a test but I should be back to my best soon.
“I’ve done a lot of rehabilitation and fitness work since the surgery in mid-October so hopefully it won’t take long to be 100 per cent.”
Yeung cut his upper lip when the David Ferraris-trained newcomer Rage Of Earth flipped and dislodged the 27-year-old, who is expected to be cleared to ride this weekend after minor surgery to have the wound stitched up yesterday.
Chadwick picked up four of Yeung’s seven rides tonight, including two solid chances in Trendy Win and last-start winner Timely Arrived, as well as replacing Vincent Ho Chak-yiu, who couldn’t make the light weight on No Money No Talk, in race eight.
“Trendy Win isn’t drawn that well but he is in great form and I think Timely Arrived has a good chance,” Chadwick said. “It’s just great to be back out there again doing what I love.”
On Sunday Chadwick expects to have as many as four rides, including Green Dispatch for former boss Tony Cruz in the Group One Hong Kong Classic Cup.
The French Derby placegetter was well beaten in the Classic Mile but has since trialled in a more lively manner with blinkers on and Chadwick aboard last week.
“I liked the trial and it was enough to tell me he is settling in better, it was a big improvement,” Chadwick said. “Everybody is talking about the top two, Sun Jewellery and Werther, but I think there were a few horses behind them open to a lot of improvement, especially as we get up in trip. Green Dispatch was definitely one of them, he will be at his best when we get to the Derby, and whatever he does on Sunday he will improve on.”
Fitting into the same category of “needing further” are Cruz’s other two Classic Cup entrants, Giovanni Canaletto and California Disegno – both bringing pedigree and race form that indicates running a strong 1,800m won’t be a problem.
“I think all three of my horses are heading in the right direction,” said Cruz, who pulled off a minor coup by booking Joao Moreira to ride Giovanni Canaletto after the son of Galileo, who was placed in the Irish Derby, rattled home for a surprising first-up sixth in the Classic Mile.