It's a big surprise but a welcome one, says delighted jockey Hong Kong-based jockey Danny Nikolic has gained a lucky pick-up ride in Australia's racing championship event, the WS Cox Plate, at Moonee Valley a week from tomorrow. Nikolic, in Melbourne on temporary leave from his club jockey contract to ride the favourite, Sphenophyta, in tomorrow's Group One Caulfield Cup, was claimed for the mount by trainer Roger Hoysted virtually as he stepped off the plane yesterday. The ride became open when Lad Of The Manor's previously booked rider, Damien Oliver, was suspended on Wednesday for careless riding. 'It's a big surprise but a welcome one because he's a chance to win it and I won't miss anything in Hong Kong either because we race on the Sunday,' Nikolic said yesterday. 'I'll leave for Melbourne after next Wednesday night's Happy Valley meeting then get a plane back after the Cox Plate and be in Hong Kong Sunday morning. I'm riding Natural Blitz in the Premier sprint on that day for Derek Cruz and I wouldn't miss that for the world. Derek's got him going like he can win another big race this season.' Lad Of The Manor has been a track specialist at the Moonee Valley course throughout his career, beaten there only once in six starts when unlucky in last year's Cox Plate behind Makybe Diva. He is listed on the fourth line of ante post betting as a 10-1 chance. In past seasons, Hong Kong punters have been able to see and wager on the Cox Plate but the switch to a Sunday meeting here next weekend will prevent it this time. Current markets have posted the Lee Freedman-trained Sphenophyta as a 7-2 favourite to give Nikolic a second Caulfield Cup tomorrow to add to the one he won on Mummify three years ago for the same owner-trainer combination. Champion Australian sprinter Takeover Target became the first of the foreign invaders to arrive in Hong Kong for the International Races when he touched down at Chek Lap Kok airport yesterday. Takeover Target, who has won feature sprints in Australia, England and Japan this year, will be the star attraction in the Hong Kong Sprint, to be held at Sha Tin on December 10. Takeover Target's groom was none other than his owner-trainer Joe Janiak, the country taxi driver who has taken this patched-up speedster from being a cheap buy at a used-horse sale to become the number one turf sprinter on the planet. Takeover Target will win a US$1 million bonus if he's successful at Sha Tin.