Red-hot jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu capped off his best week in Hong Kong with a bitter taste in his mouth, left to think about what could have been despite riding six winners in two meetings.
The local jockey was the talk of the track on Saturday after riding four winners in the space of five races at Sha Tin, bettering his previous best of three in a day.
In a sign of Ho’s development as a jockey, he could not help but be disappointed after the last race at Sha Tin on Saturday after riding beaten favourite Noble Steed to a flashy fourth.
Before that race, Ho had produced one of the best rides of the day with Ugly Warrior in the Class Two Tsuen Lok Handicap (1,200m) on the all-weather track, where he was forced to change plans mid-race and go back in the field due to a hot early tempo, before running over the top of the field in a group finish.
Ho also won on Go Public in the Class Three Yan Chai Trophy (1,200m), Fortunate Runner in the Class Four Chinese General Chamber of Commerce Handicap (1,400m) and Glittering Armour in the Class Three Sha Tsui Handicap (1,200m).
This is getting Ugly! A rampant Vincent Ho follows his Happy Valley double on Wednesday with the first four timer of his career as Ugly Warrior takes his AW record to five wins from 6 attempts in the Tsuen Lok Handicap. #HKRacing pic.twitter.com/pt38Omwgpb— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) October 13, 2018
When asked about his day out at Sha Tin, which came on the back of two midweek winners at Happy Valley, Ho said he could not help but be disappointed with the finish to his day.
“It was OK … I can’t complain but it could be better,” he said. “My last one for Francis [Lui Kin-wai] should have won and didn’t so I’m not doing my best.”
With the departure of a number of senior jockeys from the Hong Kong riding ranks at the end of last season, Ho has been able to step up, finding himself consistently riding winning chances.
The Hong Kong local said that, combined with the knowledge he picked up during a short stint in England during the Hong Kong off-season, had contributed to his strong start to the season.
“Definitely a combination of both, my mind is a lot better, my horsemanship is better after England, I have a lot more confidence because I am training a lot, I am fit,” he said.
“Of course, the main thing is the horses, the horses are all going very well and they are all fit.”
Ho’s quartet of winners take him out of the pack and places him in a clear third in the jockeys’ championship with 11 wins behind Zac Purton (17) and Karis Teetan (16).
Ho-Ho-Ho! Vincent Ho is laughing all the way to the winner's enclosure for the third time today as Go Public nails the freewheeling Harbour Alert right on the line in the Yai Chin Trophy. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/JuJSn1XcCd— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) October 13, 2018
Striking at 16 per cent this season, Ho’s breakout year is further magnified by the fact he was only able to ride 24 winners last season at a strike rate of five per cent.
Teetan also managed to quietly rack up a trio of winners, fresh off his career-best quintet last weekend at Sha Tin.
Adding to the drama surrounding the jockeys’ championship, Purton copped a two-meeting suspension for his ride on Comfort Life in the Yeung Uk Handicap (1,400m), which he will serve on October 28 and 31, putting his early lead in jeopardy.
Interestingly enough on Friday, the Australian stood up for the local Hong Kong jockeys, such as Ho, saying they would be the ones to lose out if crowd favourite Joao Moreira was to return after being denied a full-time Japanese licence.
Trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak was full of praise for Ho after winning on Ugly Warrior, saying he was “on fire” and riding “full of confidence”.
Tsui originally planned for Ho to charge forward from an awkward barrier 11 on the promising four-year-old, but that was later thrown out the window after a fast early speed denied him the chance.
“That’s why after 400m he changed the plan, he took the sit, very smart,” Tsui said of the ride. “The jockey is on fire, he is full of confidence, he is riding very well.”
Ho also revealed he will take the ride of the John Moore-trained Not Listenin’tome in next weekend’s Group Two Premier Bowl and Tony Cruz’s Exultant in the Group Two Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy, which is set to include the likes of Pakistan Star, Beauty Generation, Werther and Time Warp.