Jockey Neil Callan had endured the longest run of outs of any active jockey in Hong Kong before Wednesday night, but with two wins now under his belt, the Irishman is looking to strike while the iron is hot.
Callan went 77 rides without a winner but had been near the mark many times, racking up 18 placings over that period, including a third on Sunny Speed in the rich Hong Kong Derby in March.
Only Zac Purton, Karis Teetan, Joao Moreira, Vincent Ho Chak-yiu and Silvestre de Sousa have more placings than Callan’s 69 this season.
With just 13 wins, the affable Irishman is in the midst of one of his leanest seasons in Hong Kong, but has not let his confidence waver.
Wins on both Jolly Convergence and Perfect Glory at Happy Valley on Wednesday night broke the drought, but Callan knows the importance of making hay while the sun shines in Hong Kong.
The 40-year-old will take a plum book of rides into Sunday’s card at Sha Tin including a pair of Tony Millard-trained horses who are primed for big runs.
Callan will ride both Ezra in the Class Four Chan Trophy Handicap (1,600m) and Silver Fig in the IP Jug Handicap (1,200m).
“I think they both have a good chance, they feel good in the morning and that is important,” he said.
“They are quite different horses, Silver Fig is quite laid back, goes with the flow where Ezra is right on from the word go.”
The pair will be just the third and fourth horses that Callan has ridden for Millard this season but is happy to be jumping on with the South African’s stable appearing to hit a purple patch of form.
“He had a real good run, then he had a quiet patch but his horses have come back again so I am happy to be coming on at the right time,” Callan said.
While many jockeys search for things to do differently while in moments of despair, Callan said he forged ahead with what he knew best – hard work.
“It reiterated to me that I was riding OK because before Wednesday night I had 66 seconds and thirds, so they weren’t running bad, it is just the competitiveness of Hong Kong racing,” he said.
“I know what it is like, everyone else knows what it is like and it’s just a matter of continuing to turn up and ride well.
“I haven’t done anything different, it’s simply a matter of continuing to turn up, don’t drop your head and keep riding with confidence.
“On Wednesday night I had five rides and I thought with the draws I had, if it’s going to turn, it’ll be then and sure enough it did with two winners, and almost three – I’ll take them.”
Callan will also jump aboard David Ferraris’ first-starter Winning Feeling who comes to Hong Kong with a rating of 71 after winning once in Australia.
He will also ride Michael Chang Chun-wai’s Target Finder, John Moore’s Winning Circle and Caspar Fownes’ Tangmere.