Yuichi Fukunaga's ability to handle the learning curve and pressure of riding Eishin Preston in top international races should come as no surprise judging by the jockey's CV. The 25-year-old was bred for the job, being the son of brilliant jockey Yoichi Fukunaga, and has made rapid progress during his six years as a licensed rider. He won at his first appearance in a race and went on to land 52 other races in his first season, taking the award as most-valuable new jockey for the Japan Racing Association. In 1997, in his second season of riding, the young Fukunaga captured his first graded stakes success in the Group Three Kyoto Himba Tokubetsu and his first Group One triumph came in 1999 in the Japanese 1,000 Guineas aboard Prim Ordine. Just a week after that victory, though, Fukunaga was seriously injured in a spill during a preliminary canter and underwent surgery on his liver, spleen and kidneys, one of which was removed. Fukunaga Snr's career had been ended after a fall, when Yuichi was only two, but this time there was a happier ending as the young star bounced back in December of that year to win the Group One Asahi Hai Sansai Stakes over 1,600 metres. The winner was Eishin Preston, who went on to take the JRA's award as champion juvenile, and the pair haven't looked back. Fukunaga has ridden Eishin Preston at all his 22 starts for nine wins, three seconds and one third. The pair's record at Sha Tin is two-for-two and few would bet against a hat-trick come the Hong Kong Cup in December.