Jack Wong Ho-nam had his best day as a senior jockey at Happy Valley on Sunday and the 25-year-old hopes a mixture of success and hard work can help him increase his “selling point”.
Wong landed a double with victories aboard Starlit Knight and Almababy, with Starlit Knight’s success seeing Wong post his first winner since the opening day of the season and only his third since graduating from his apprenticeship in June.
Wong said he has found himself in no-man’s-land to some extent since waving goodbye to his five-pound claim.
“The trainers tend to look for the best rider or the rider that has the most claim, but I am kind of in the middle,” he said.
Jack Wong steps in for injured Alvin Ng and doubles up as Almababy swoops late in the Valley nightcap. The win completes a treble for trainer Me Tsui, who was on the mark earlier with Starlit Knight and Dragon Pioneer. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/3CYnl8rGL1— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) October 28, 2018
“I don’t have enough selling point compared to the better riders so I can only work harder myself and see what I can do when I’m not on the best horse.
“After my graduation I only had one winner and then it was quiet for a while, I think I am still digesting the process at the moment. Now I just have to prepare myself and get ready for the future.”
Both Wong’s winners were for his former boss Me Tsui Yu-sak – who had a treble on the day after also saluting with Dragon Pioneer – and the trainer praised the jockey. “He’s very smart and he’s riding with confidence,” Tsui said.
Wong only picked up the ride on Almababy after Alvin Ng Ka-chun injured his ankle at trackwork on Saturday morning, but he was the obvious replacement after partnering the horse twice already this season.
“I’m sorry about Alvin but I’m happy. I know the horse and how he can jump a bit awkwardly sometimes, I just kept him quiet this time,” Wong said of Almababy, who won the Class Two Chai Wan Kok Handicap (1,200m).
“He wasn’t really keeping up with the speed in the middle stage so I gave him a quiet run and he finished off very well.”
Wong took Starlit Knight to the front at the 600m and stole a break on the field to comfortably win the Class Four Tsing Yi Handicap (1,650m).
“I won the race mostly because I know the horse well from the mornings,” Wong said. “This race I was lucky, I got a good position and just let the horse run.”
It wasn’t all smiles for Wong, who was hit with a two-meeting ban for careless riding aboard Thunder Stomp in the ninth race, which will see him miss November 14 and the final lead-in day to the Longines Hong Kong International Races on November 18.
The wait for Douglas Whyte's 1800th HK winner goes on: Storm Signal gives his all in R8 at the Valley but comes up just short as Dragon Pioneer, under an aggressive ride from Vincent Ho, makes all from stall 10. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/az34ux5P6D— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) October 28, 2018
It was a big afternoon for Tsui, whose haul saw him move within three of the top of the trainers’ championship.
“It’s been better than expected,” said Tsui, crediting a gear change for Dragon Pioneer’s win in the Class Three Ma Wan Handicap (1,000m).
“In the last two starts he didn’t have much early speed so I took off the hood and put the blinkers on and it helped him.”