A late pick-up ride gave jockey Chad Schofield the final piece of his first Hong Kong treble at Sha Tin yesterday as he set about making up for the time he has lost this season through suspension, and his Yan Oi Tong Cup win had an extra piquancy.
“I came knowing I had some good rides but you never take the results for granted in this place – one win from a good book is hard enough so three is a really good day,” Schofield said. “I missed a lot of December with suspension and that really slowed my momentum. But I’ve had a few winners lately now and hopefully that will open more doors in the coming weeks.”
He landed wins for three different yards, finishing off with Benno Yung Tin-pang-trained Happy Place in the last after winning the third race with G-One Leader for Dennis Yip Chor-hong, and no doubt got an extra thrill out of Ambitious Champion’s win sandwiched in between for Richard Gibson.
Schofield had been the regular rider of Victory Magic (Douglas Whyte) until his previous start and it was Ambitious Champion who was there to mow down that horse on the line yesterday after the John Moore-trained four-year-old looked to have the race shot to pieces.
“He was home at the 200m but by the 100m, Dougie was calling Uber,” said Moore, who added that Derby plans are still on for Victory Magic.
Schofield too was resigned to a Victory Magic win halfway up the straight but kept working at Ambitious Champion, who wore him down late.
“My horse was quite dour and with every stride he was picking up a little and Victory Magic was coming back to him a little,” he said. “There wasn’t much in it but the stable has a good opinion of Ambitious Champion so I’m sure it won’t be his last win.”
Happy Place was a pick-up for the young Australian after local rider Keith Yeung Ming-lun was forced to relinquish his rides for the second successive meeting due to facial injuries suffered in a track accident before the trials last Tuesday.
“Happy Place is quite field-shy and had won impressively two runs ago when he was able to relax, then come out into plenty of room to finish off,” said Schofield. “Since then, he was cluttered up and didn’t get the same room so Benno asked me to try to replicate his winning ride and I thought he was pretty good. His acceleration caught me by surprise and I got there too quickly and he had a good look around when he hit the front.”
G-One Leader is an infrequent winner and not the easiest of rides but Schofield said the light handicap suited the gelding.
“There’s not much of him and he doesn’t give you a lot of help in the run. Considering he got a bump off Triumphant Light, he didn’t do a bad job,” the jockey said. “But it was a big help to him, the light weight and getting 16 pounds off the second horse.”
Schofield even went within a nose of four wins on the day when G-One Leader’s stablemate, Travel First, was touched off in the final stride of race nine.