Jockey Keith Yeung Ming-lun has fought back to fitness from a debilitating back injury which kept him out of the saddle for more than a month.
The 30-year-old was forced to withdraw mid-meeting last month after feeling “shocking pain” in his back, giving up the winning ride on Clear Choice at the same time.
“My spine, the L4 and L5 [vertebrae], there are some jellies in between each section and that just got broken down, it was putting pressure on my nerves,” he said. “It was a build up of things, it was very painful.
“It was in a race that night [February 27], it happened in race one, I felt shocking pain and I had Clear Choice which I thought was my best chance of the night so I tried to ride one more but when I came back I just couldn’t move, so I had to stand down.”
With time considered the best medicine for the injury, Yeung found himself on the sidelines with not much to do, but admits he has learned how to deal with seeing horses he used to ride go on to win.
“I have been here long enough to overcome these kinds of things, it doesn’t really bother me, like I always do, I just ride whatever I can and give it my best,” he said.
“I have been taken off good rides quite often so I have learned not to care about it and keep the right attitude and work hard, that way if people want to put me on, they put me on.
“For this kind of injury, there is not much you can do, the doctor actually advised me to have two to three months off to give it a proper break to allow it to heal up.
“Those jellies that push out will never go back in, once they are out, they are out, but when you give it time to heal, the crack can clear up, just to contain it.
“I have learned some new exercises to learn to protect it by strengthening up the muscle around it and give it more support.”
Yeung will ride the Benno Yung Tin-pang-trained Not Usual Talent in the Class Three Yan Chau Tong Handicap (1,600m) in what is his best ride of the day.
Yeung has previously ridden the four-year-old to a second placing and was forced to watch from home as new jockey Regan Bayliss looked all but certain to win on him three weeks ago before being pipped in the shadows of the post.
“It was really nice of Benno to put me back on Not Usual Talent, I think he has lots of potential this horse,” he said.
“He wants a longer trip but the field is not strong this time and he is in really good form so I think he will be really competitive.”
Not Usual Talent will have to beat home Unicron Jewellery, who Zac Purton produced a masterful ride aboard to just beat Bayliss last start, but will have the advantage of an inside draw.
With Joao Moreira back from suspension Purton will ride John Moore’s Earth Trilogy, who has improved during his four starts in Hong Kong but has been dealt barrier 13.
The Chris So Wai-yin-trained I Do will also step into Class Three grade for the first time after his breakthrough win in Class Four a month ago.