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Lucky Hero charges down the centre of the track to score under Vincent Ho Chak-yiu for Danny Shum Chap-shing – @HKJC_Racing
Win 250 is a major one for Hong Kong’s local jockeys – it signifies the end of their claim (after completing their apprenticeship, they get three pounds from win 70 to 95 and then two pounds from 95 to 250).
So when Ho collected his milestone victory aboard Lucky Hero in the first section of the Class Three Ruby Handicap (1,200m) on Sunday, there was a huge sense of satisfaction.
“Lovely – finally,” he said.
Because while it may seem like the loss of the claim will hurt, the 28-year-old actually thinks it is a blessing.
It should actually open up opportunities, because even though Ho can get down to 115 pounds, trainers usually want him to use all of his claim so they are reluctant to give him rides at 115 or 116.
Then there is also the personal toll of having to really push to make that weight at most meetings – something that can be very challenging.
“It will make life easier for me because I struggle with the weight. It will be better for sure,” he said.
“When there is a good chance at a light weight, I can still manage to do 115 [pounds] but at least I can ride easier now.”
Ho is enjoying the best season of his career – Sunday’s win was his 38th of the season – and he is in the box-seat to claim the Tony Cruz Award as the top local of the season.
Despite his good form, Ho is not satisfied and wants more.
“It could be more – three seconds last Wednesday was a bit unlucky but life goes on. I’ll just keep pushing,” he said.
“I want as many winners as possible, I don’t really set numbers for myself. I just do my best on every horse.”
No Big Party there. Odds-on shot beaten. Blew the start – @TheBettingLog
Punters got carried away with the boom on Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s talented youngster Big Party – it was insane he started a $1.7 chance in the ninth race.
He looks a promising type, but given he has ongoing problems with his knees, he hadn’t raced since New Year’s Day and he’d shot up 13 points in the ratings, there were a few things to be wary of.
Not to mention a couple of other handy gallopers in Mr Croissant and Racing Fighter to deal with.
In any case, there wasn’t a big margin for error and Big Party didn’t help himself by being fractious in the barriers, subsequently missing the start and having to travel three-wide (with cover).
Jockey Grant van Niekerk said the three-year-old continued to lay in around the turn, before drifting out under pressure in the straight. He told stewards he opted not to straighten Big Party up because he felt he would break the horse’s momentum, but he finished off the race only fairly to end up fifth.
A post-race veterinary exam revealed no significant findings. It wasn’t Van Niekerk’s best ride, but the horse didn’t make things easy.
In the cold light of day, this is just a case of a three-year-old with ability who had a few too many obstacles to overcome – he was simply the wrong price.
Give him some time to iron out his health issues and quirks and Big Party will be successful again.
The winner also has a little bit of class and trainer Chris So Wai-yin was delighted to see Mr Croissant overcome both Big Party and Racing Fighter to record his second win from three starts.
“I thought Frankie and Dennis’ horses were the two to beat,” So said. “I wasn’t sure if he’d handle the track or not but Regan [Bayliss] said he loved it. Hopefully he can keep improving. He’s a fighter – he’s strong.
“He’s only a young horse and I don’t want to push too hard. Maybe one more this season, I want to give him time before bringing him back next season.
“This was a strong field – it’s proven he’s got ability. I hope he can eventually get up to Class Two.”