Chad Schofield has been granted a golden opportunity to remind everybody he is still around when he returns from a long suspension on lightweight chance Bad Boy in Sunday’s Group Three Bauhinia Sprint Trophy.
For the second straight season Schofield sat out a significant stretch of December because of trouble with stewards, this time serving an eight-meeting careless riding ban that meant missing the rich features on international day.
Last season Schofield’s December suspensions sparked a mid-season slump where he rode just one winner from his next 55 rides, but the booking on Bad Boy gives him a great chance of success on his first day back.
“It’s just about getting back into a rhythm. Hopefully, I can get some early winners early on and get the ball rolling again,” said 22-year-old Schofield, who has not ridden since December 4.
“It’s quite hard when you are suspended because you lose momentum, but if I can start off with a bang on Sunday that would be good.”
Bad Boy ventures into Group race territory for the first time, carrying bottom weight in a small but quality six-horse field containing not only Group One winner Peniaphobia (top weight with 133 pounds), but also Group race winners Amazing Kids and Not Listenin’tome, who will both lump 132 pounds.
Rival jockey Sam Clipperton couldn’t make the weight to retain the ride on Bad Boy, so trainer John Moore has turned to Schofield, who will claim two pounds over the limit weight and ride at 115.
“This is the first time he has raced against the A-graders, so let’s see how he goes, but he gets a big weight advantage here,” said Schofield, pointing to the four-year-old’s slick time of 55.93 seconds in a dominant last-start win as evidence Bad Boy can hang with the big boys.
“He carried top weight and broke 56 seconds comfortably, so if he can run that time carrying 133 pounds, what is he going to do with the minimum on his back? If he can run those types of times they will have their work cut out trying to catch him.”
Schofield rode an impressive 32 winners last season, his first in Hong Kong, but his output was limited by trouble with stewards for careless riding as the second-generation rider sat out a total of 15 meetings.
One of those charges meant Schofield missed the first three meetings of this term as well but he has still managed 13 winners.
The eight-meeting ban came for his role in a fall that sidelined Jack Wong Ho-nam and Umberto Rispoli with leg injuries, but Schofield believes he is sticking to his stated goal of riding more carefully this season.
“That was my first suspension of the season, but it was a big one. It shows you can find trouble with a minor shift. You have to be careful and aware, so that’s what I plan to continue to do,” he said.
“I was happy enough with how things were going prior to the suspension, but eight meetings is a long time.
“There’s a lot of work to catch up on so I have to knuckle down.”