A fast start to a season can equate to a slow second half but Chris So Wai-yin is defying that trend and Flying Monkey can extend the trainer’s strong end-of-season form at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
So jumped out of the blocks fast at the start of the term, a four-timer in late September giving him nine wins from the first six meetings, and the young trainer was still in front as the new year rolled around.
With 27 winners from the first 33 meetings it wasn’t surprising to see So hit a mid-season slump of sorts, but he has gathered momentum of late, rocketing past his previous career high of 39 victories early last month.
Victory with first-starter Relentless Me on Sunday gives So 45 winners so far and has him entrenched in the top five of the trainers’ championship behind big guns John Size, John Moore and Caspar Fownes.
Flying Monkey was part of So’s early season charge, the four-year-old resuming after a series of three straight seconds to end last season with a first-up win over 1,200m at Happy Valley.
The son of Pins was then a solid second over the same course and distance in a race where he was pressured in front when carrying 131 pounds.
A setback in November meant Flying Monkey missed more than two months of work and didn’t return to the trials until late March.
Two more solid trials since then has Flying Monkey ready for a return and the speedy gelding has attracted the services of Joao Moreira, who has been aboard for the horse’s last three starts.
Flying Monkey tries the city track’s helter-skelter 1,000m course for the first time in the Night Jar Handicap, but the trip might even suit So’s horse more than 1,200m.
With the rail out in the C + 3 position, Moreira should be able to utilise his horses speed to cross and control from in front.
Helping Flying Monkey’s cause are wide draws for a couple of his talented young rivals, including three-year-olds Best Step (Zac Purton) and Ever Strong (Alex Lai Hoi-wing), who jump from 10 and 11 respectively.
Best Step was a short head second last start over the course and distance and has some obvious upside, while Ever Strong is one to keep a close watch on after showing some zip in his two trials.
David Hall’s Argentum hasn’t won since October but returns to the course and distance where he has gone closest when he contests the Class Four Owl Handicap (1,650m).
Argentum was a first-up winner at Sha Tin but his best result since then was a short head defeat to Sparkling Sword in early February.
The grey hasn’t been back to the city track since, but now gets the benefit of barrier one and the services of up-and-coming star Sam Clipperton, who was aboard for the gelding’s win.
Red Kylin (Olivier Doleuze) has never had much luck at the Valley but that could change when the six-year-old contests the Swiftlet Handicap (Class Three 1,200m).
Red Kylin has campaigned well in four starts over the straight 1,000m at Sha Tin this season, placing at his last two, but now comes back to the smaller track almost a year to the day since his last start there.
A last start second to Fortune Bo Bo came after more than four months away and is a solid foundation for another step forward here.