Chad Schofield deferred a suspension earlier this season specifically to ride the Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained Happy Tour in a restricted race at Conghua only to be badly let down, so he is hoping not to be burnt twice come Wednesday.
The four-year-old goes around in the Class Three Hoi Mei Handicap (1,200m) after a six-week break where he looks to emulate the feats of his five-length win on the all-weather surface in December.
While Schofield said all the signs point in a positive direction, he is cautious after experiencing the disappointment of his Conghua effort in March.
“I thought it was just an own goal, he would go there and win,” Schofield said bluntly. “He just raced terribly, led easily, controlled the race and just didn’t kick – dropped right out.
“I really thought he would be winning that race, it was a special conditions race and I thought he would be really hard to beat.
“With the horses he was racing, if it was in Hong Kong I think he would have been $1.2, he raced horses with a lot lower rating.”
Doubles for @zpurton, trainer Danny Shum and owner Jackie Wong as Happy Tour dominates in R5. The International Sale graduate is backed down to 1.9 and wins in style to continue the trend towards on-pace runners. #HKIR #HKracing pic.twitter.com/qVXCp0HJPR— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) December 2, 2018
Since his effort in Conghua, Happy Tour raced again a month later with a similar result under jockey Regan Bayliss, but was then put away to rest.
Trialling under rival jockey Grant van Niekerk last week, Happy Tour showed a spark that had previously been unsighted since his last win in December.
“He seems to be going really well, he has had a little break and he had a trial on the dirt last week. He went very well,” Schofield said.
“We know he likes the surface so hopefully he can get back to his winning form.”
Still in his first season of racing, Happy Tour comes to the races with a rating of 72, giving Schofield confidence there is more in store in the future.
“He is quite well rated and can win a couple more races, we have drawn a good gate [on Wednesday] so hopefully he gets a good run up on the pace. He is a free-rolling horse who likes to roll along so he should be hard to catch,” he said.
Despite working well on Sunday morning, Schofield said it did not necessarily mean he had returned to form.
“I was working him before Conghua and I thought he was working well but then he let me down so hopefully he doesn’t let me down again,” he said.
Meanwhile, in-form jockey Aldo Domeyer is looking to strike again at Sha Tin with Encore Boy.
While the Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained galloper remains winless this season, he has gone close on a host of occasions.
The five-year-old had raced exclusively on dirt this season before his last-start fifth at Happy Valley with Domeyer on board.
Returning to the all-weather surface and his preferred 1,200m trip, Domeyer believes he has a strong chance in the race.
“I’m told he is much better on the all-weather which is quite surprising because he seemed to run into the race quite nicely the other day,” he said.
“I see he has come down two pounds which is also in his aid and in this class I think he is going to be quite competitive.”