Trainer Peter Ho Leung was probably talking tongue in cheek when he said Dylan Mo Hin-tung had replaced Joao Moreira as his favourite jockey after a double for the yard on Saturday.
Mo’s effort in race one later earned him a two-day suspension and HK$30,000 fine for careless riding but it was otherwise a red letter day for the junior rider as he clinched his first Jockey Challenge.
The Challenge doesn’t bring the winning jockeys any financial benefit but it is certainly indicative of bragging rights after a good day and Mo’s wins on all-the-way dirt winners Happy Beauty and Turin Pearl got him over the line with a couple of minor placings thrown in and firmed up the hottest new combination in town, Team Mo-Ho.
“I think now he’s my favourite jockey,” Ho said when Turin Pearl was their third winner from only five runners together in the past month and from only eight mounts ever.
Ho’s reference to Moreira had to do with the Brazilian riding Ho’s promising but very green dirt galloper Gran Master in the sixth race.
A warm favourite, Gran Master finished down the course after he over-raced wearing blinkers for the first time then got unbalanced and galloped on himself after clipping the heels of a horse up ahead of him.
“He has a big cut on his foreleg, with a lot of blood,” Ho said in explanation of Gran Master’s failure. “So Dylan is now my favourite jockey ahead of Joao.”
Ho said Happy Beauty’s poor form had some excuses to it, the latest when beaten a long way behind Rewarding Flyer on the turf.
“He was hit in the face by a big clod of dirt on the turf track so he didn’t perform,” he said. “So I thought I would give him a try on the dirt and asked Dylan to make sure he was in the lead so he would not have any kickback.”
Turin Pearl also went to the front and was never headed, the seven-year-old landing his fourth dirt win in a career of 41 starts.
“He’s very honest, very consistent on this surface and today was his day with the light weight,” Ho said.
Mo’s double took him to 23 wins for the term, significant as he now sits just two wins behind Derek Leung Ka-chun in the chase for the Tony Cruz Award for the leading local rider of the season.