Last-start winners are great and all, but as jockey Chad Schofield put it, “sometimes it’s not that simple”.
A strong book of rides including four last start winners is obviously welcomed by Schofield at Sha Tin on Saturday but in a tightly handicapped environment, victory always comes with a sting in the tail.
Silverfield, Je Pense, C P Power and Citron Spirit all have a “one” directly next to their name in form guides, but will need to overcome a rise in class or weight to continue the sequence.
“I’m really happy with the book of rides, there’s some tricky draws as well, but if I can handle that it could be a good day,” Schofield said.
One horse who Schofield believes can absorb a nine-point ratings rise and overcome an awkward gate is Michael Freedman’s rejuvenated seven-year-old Silverfield in the Class Three Hakka Spirit Handicap (1,400m).
“He is horse that competed at a very high level in his younger days, he came here on a very high rating,” Schofield said.
“Michael seems to have got him back in form. His last win was exceptional, the way he let down. If I can get a nice run from that barrier I think he can do it again.
“Admittedly, from gate 14 we are dictated to, he is a horse that likes to suck up behind them, peel out and show his turn of foot. He doesn’t have a sustained turn of foot, and you can’t use him early and expect him to show that.”
Je Pense has already won two in a row, rising out of Class Five with a couple of comprehensive displays.
Even though it might seem like Michael Chang Chun-wai’s stayer is nearing his mark, Schofield is bullish about his chances in the Class Four Mei Zhou Hero Handicap (1,800m).
“He is racing pretty much the same horses and he gave them a walloping last time,” he said.
“I rode him during the week and he feels as good as he was last start. Obviously he is creeping up in the weights now and this is a bigger field, but he is in career-best form and there’s no reason why he can’t win again.”
Of Schofield’s nine rides, perhaps the biggest question mark hovers over Travel Emperor, a horse who entered this season with high expectations but has failed badly as favourite on two occasions already.
Both of those flops were around a bend and Schofield is hopeful a return to the straight course can make the difference in the Class Three World Hakka Capital Handicap (1,000m).
“He showed his potential up the straight on debut last season, and he has had excuses in his races this season. He has raced wide and without cover,” he said.
“He is just a young horse learning, he is a horse with a lovely action. If he can jump well from the inside gate and park himself in a good spot he is going to be very strong on the line with the lightweight. Class Three sprinters up the straight are quite competitive, but he has the ability to beat them if he puts it all together.”