Top local jockey Derek Leung Ka-chun book ended the Happy Valley meeting on Wednesday night to secure his place in the Longines International Jockeys’ Championship and is quietly confident he can give it a shake if Lady Luck is kind.
It certainly won’t be the first time in the IJC for Leung, but he is hoping to draw some better rides than last year’s event, when his mounts averaged 60-1 in the betting.
“It’s an honour just to compete in the IJC and represent Hong Kong, of course,” he said. “But I do feel like I’m riding well this season and if I can draw some horses with chances, who knows? Maybe I could be a chance.”
Leung is enjoying what looks like his best season, with 14 wins on the board already and well on the way to toppling his previous full season best figure of 33 wins.
He opened proceedings with a smart win on Francis Lui Kin-wai-trained Golden Glory in Class Five, having to help the wayward seven-year-old around the turns.
“He has a history of not cornering well and I still had to help him tonight but he had a change of trainer this season and seems to have got stronger, and more switched on,” he said.
In the final race, Leung didn’t go around a horse on Magnetism to win comfortably and seal a double for trainer David Ferraris, who had won earlier with London City (Douglas Whyte).
“You know, Derek is just riding so well at the moment – getting a two-pound claim with him is a real bonus,” Ferraris said. “Magnetism is a horse I don’t think is finished yet. He can win again at the top of Class Three.”
Tony Cruz also landed a winning double, with unfashionable jockey Alvin Ng Ka-chun racking up his first for the new season on California Aspar and seven-pound claimer Dylan Mo Hin-tung on Multigogo.
“The jockey isn’t as important as the horse – he does all the running,” Cruz laughed after both horses led throughout for their maiden victories.
“Multigogo had lost some of his early speed so we put him up to the mile tonight and he was able to get the lead and he had been indicating in the sprints that some extra distance would suit him. As for California Aspar, I just told Alvin to go with the horse, let him run. He had the perfect draw on the C+3 course in barrier one so I said just use it.”
One ride, one win☝️— Michael Cox (@KemblaCoxy) November 22, 2017
Alvin Ng tells an adoring press pack how he did it after California Aspar salutes at Happy Valley # pic.twitter.com/Uf3gX9SJyJ
Champion trainer, John Size has well and truly put his slowish start into the background, looming up now in the rear view mirror of his former protégé Frankie Lor Fu-chuen at the top of the trainers’ table.
Lor still holds sway with 22 wins for the term but Size moved into joint second seven wins behind with Ricky Yiu Poon-fai, after Sir Redalot (Joao Moreira) won the sixth event for former Jockey Club chairman, Ronald Arculli.
Sir Redalot had been racing over 1,650m before his late scratching on October 11 when he broke away at the start but Size said he felt the 1,200m might have suited him better.
“He was finding the mile a bit tough but good speed on tonight at the shorter distance and he enjoyed having something to run at,” Size said.
Stewards had a relatively quiet night except for that race, where three jockeys wound up with careless riding bans from a messy stretch run.
Neil Callan, Tommy Berry and Chad Schofield all miss the meetings on December 13 and 17, while Callan was hit with an additional HK$15,000 fine.