Derek Leung Ka-chun hopes a rare Group race success and three-timer last weekend can kick-start his season as he heads to Happy Valley with a great chance on Peter Ho Leung’s “tough little sprinter” Phantom Falcon.
Leung stole last Sunday’s Group Three Celebration Cup with a cheeky front-running ride on John Moore’s Beauty Generation, the third Group Three success of his career.
“The locals don’t get as many chances in those big races so it is great when we get an opportunity to prove we can get the job done,” Leung said. “Let’s see if it gives me more chances in other races too, getting and keeping rides.”
Leung overcame an injury-interrupted campaign to win the Tony Cruz Award last season but his status as leading local rider is under serious threat from star apprentice Matthew Poon Ming-fai.
Poon has seven wins already but Phantom Falcon looks a fantastic chance of adding to Leung’s four winners in the Class Four Quarry Bay Handicap (1,200m).
“He is only small, but he fights very hard and has a lot of courage,” Leung said of the four-year-old. “I have a lot of time for him.”
Phantom Falcon has weighed in at 981 pounds ahead of his third run of the season, down 10 pounds on a narrow last start defeat to Smart Boy two weeks ago.
That was a run full of merit as Phantom Falcon crossed from gate 10 to sit outside the lead and was only defeated by a short-head, with a two-and-a-half length margin to third, and the form looks good after Starlight, who had defeated Smart Boy previously, easily won again in Class Three. Phantom Falcon also finished ahead of Starlight first-up this season.
Unfortunately the son of Swiss Ace had his terrible run of bad barriers continue, drawing 11 – making double-digit gates in all three starts this term.
“We will go forward again, he races handy and just keeps fighting,” Leung said. “I just hope we can get there without too much work.”
Another concern for the jockey is Phantom Falcon’s rising rating, meaning the diminutive gelding will carry 129 pounds after Leung’s two-pound allowance is taken off.
“On a small horse like him I do worry about that, and if we can win I think he will be better up in grade. I would prefer to be on him up in Class Three with a light weight than Class Four with a big weight,” he said.
Leung has rides in all eight races and his next best chance, according to early markets, is inconsistent five-year-old Beauty Love in the Class Three North Point Handicap (1,650m).
“You never know what you are going to get with him, and his form doesn’t look great and he has never won in Class Three,” Leung said. “I’m not sure what makes him run well, but if we can get a lead and have him out on his own, that might help.”