Jack Wong Ho-nam heads into Sunday’s meeting at Sha Tin needing just one win to outride his five-pound claim and Garlic Yeah looks a solid chance of giving him the milestone victory in the Class Four Sha Tin Clubhouse Handicap (1,800m).
Wong returned to Hong Kong from a stint in New Zealand in 2015 and while not attracting the same headlines as some of his contemporaries at times, he has proven to be a dependable conveyance since.
The 24-year-old has been the quiet achiever of the local ranks this season with his 22 victories ranking him 11th in the jockeys’ championship and ahead of some much bigger names.
There isn’t much of Garlic Yeah but the five-year-old has found a groove in Class Four middle distance events, winning over 1,800m at Sha Tin earlier this term and running some decent races since over further.
Trainer Dennis Yip Chor-hong brought Garlic Yeah back to Sha Tin and 1,800m last start and given a clear run, the gelding may have challenged Midnite Promise for the win.
Garlic Yeah has drawn one in an 11-horse field and although he maps to get a similar run, Wong may be tempted to be closer given the lack of speed in the race.
The 11-race card is rather uninspiring in terms of horse quality and most of the focus for fans will be on Zac Purton as he tries to take the lead in the jockeys’ championship.
With Joao Moreira sitting out the second of a two-meeting suspension, Purton heads into the meeting on 115 winners for the season and one behind his protagonist.
Purton has rides in 10 of the 11 races and the barriers draws have been mostly kind, he might still have his hands full with raw talent Handsome Bo Bo in the Class Three Beas River Equestrian Centre Handicap (1,200m).
Handsome Bo Bo had won three in a row when he was sent out a 2.1 top pick with top weight in Class Three on May 20 and it was a tough watch for favourite backers.
The son of Helmet had been given relatively easy tasks in each of his wins, following the rail with sole leads, but from barrier six, Purton had his hands full with the three-year-old.
Handsome Bo Bo not only failed to find the front but turning was train wreck material as the chestnut failed to show the same tractability as in his wins.
The sprinter returns without a trial to the same 1,200m course and with a similar barrier, with punters left to trust that the last start display was an aberration, or that the youngster has somehow learned from the experience.
In the opening race, Purton will ride two-time runner-up Quadruple Double in the Moon Koon Plate (1,000m) and his toughest rival might be a horse he rode to a second last start, Super Model.
Victor Wong Chun’s claim means Super Model gets in well at the weights and trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing has also added a crossed nose band to try and help the apprentice control the inexperienced sprinter.
Super Model handled the turn terribly on debut and while he was a touch wayward in his straight track lead-up trial as well, 1,000m does seem a simpler task.
Later in the day, the first Hong Kong-trained son of Japanese super sire Deep Impact makes his debut when Stimulation (Tommy Berry) contests the Class Two Happy Valley Clubhouse Handicap (1,800m).
Stimulation closed off well in a 1,200m dirt trial on May 29 and while Cruz can work wonders off short preparations at times it is unlikely that three 1,200m trials will be enough to have the four-year-old ready to win first-up.