Derek Leung Ka-chun is looking at the bright side and the possibility that Pingwu Spark is a big-race contender after he was replaced by rival jockey Zac Purton on Group One winner Beauty Generation for an upcoming Group One.
Leung’s maiden Group One win on Beauty Generation in the Hong Kong Mile was the story of international day but two starts later Purton will take over for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup on February 25.
Pingwu Spark will make the leap from Class Two to Group One in the same race and Leung is excited about the upside of the Benno Yung Tin-pang-trained monster.
“He has won five from six, 1,400m is his best distance but the most important thing is that he is an improving horse on the way up – we haven’t seen the best of him yet,” Leung said.
“And who knows? Maybe I will get a chance to ride Beauty Generation again in the future. The horse gave me my first Group Two and international Group One win so I love the horse. I have a great relationship with John Moore and connection with the Kwok family and that hasn’t changed but for now I’m very lucky to be able to ride Pingwu Spark in a race like this.”
Leung is fifth in the jockeys’ championship with 24 wins and leading in the race to become the first back-to-back winner of the Tony Cruz Award as leading local rider.
The 29-year-old heads to Sha Tin on Saturday with eight rides on the 10-race card including second starter Goko for Dennis Yip Chor-hong and Paul O’Sullivan’s dirt specialist Goldie Flanker.
Goko was unplaced in one run on the dirt as a three-year-old late last season but has trialled five times in the lead-up to the Class Four Bonham Handicap (1,000m).
Leung rode Goko in one of those trials and in a gallop on Thursday and even though he feels the son of O’Reilly will be better suited over further in future, he believes the gelding could run a big race fresh.
“I’ve liked the way he has trialled and he felt good in trackwork, he is a big striding horse that will probably need 1,200m or 1,400m but coming off a long break and first-up I hope he can perform well fresh.”
Goldie Flanker contests the Class Four Po Yee Handicap (1,200m) after rattling home for third over the course and distance in an on-pace dominated race last month.
Barrier two can be a blessing or a curse over the dirt short course, especially for a back-marker like Goldie Flanker, and Leung said his chances could depend on gaining a clear run late.
“He is coming back into form and he felt fine in his trial last week. It probably isn’t the best draw for him, because we will be back and need to get a run somewhere, but if we can do that I am sure he will run on.”