Top local jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu can add to his growing international resume with a strong showing at Korea’s premier meeting on Sunday.
The rising star will ride both Ugly Warrior and Glorious Artist in the Korea Sprint (1,200m) and Korea Cup (1,800m) – both rated as Korean Group Ones – at Seoul racecourse.
Ho jetted in to South Korea in the early hours of Saturday morning and was spotted at the track just hours later giving the Hong Kong-trained horses their final hit-out.
While Ho had to pass up rides at Sha Tin to compete in Seoul, the 29-year-old said the opportunity to grow his profile outside Hong Kong was too good to pass up.
Ho also rode in England during the recent off-season where he impressed many with his tireless work ethic, while also collecting a few winners.
“I love riding in different places, it’s about experience,” Ho said.
“That’s why I went [to England], to ride those different horses on different tracks and get that experience, it’s all about learning and improving – doing that makes me think about it all a lot more.
“Riding over different distances and types of tracks – left-handed, straight tracks – sometimes you’ve got to be patient and wait, other times, like on some all-weather tracks, you have to get going and know when to pick up the horse. That experience is what I take out of the summer.”
Ugly Warrior’s trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak summed up Ho’s rise to prominence best when he declared he would leave all race tactics to the Tony Cruz Award-winner.
“We [fellow trainers] say that we don’t need to give Vincent such firm instructions now,” he said. “He is a good jockey, he is there now, he can make decisions on his own in races.
“Some jockeys, when plan A does not work, they take a while to work out what to do and then the race is lost, but not Vincent, he is always thinking and you can see that.”
Ho sees Ugly Warrior’s barrier 12 as a positive, saying it will allow him to steer clear of the inevitable kickback that will be flying from the bottomless sand track.
“The sand is a bit loose but after the rain I think it will get firmer,” he said.
“We just have to see how the horses will handle the kickback. At the moment, you never know until they race, so we’ll try to avoid the kickback as much as possible.
“Ugly Warrior felt good, he was just curious, looking around a bit, but in a good way. I’m quite confident because he feels good. When he walked back, he was jumping around a little bit. He’s happy.”
Armed with advice from regular Korean riders, Ho said he would look to race Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s Glorious Artist forward from the dreaded barrier one.
“If he jumps well like in Hong Kong, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue,” he said.
“If he’s fast enough I think we can get off the rail and out of the kickback. I’ve spoken to a couple of friends who ride here and they say it’s quite straightforward to ride – you just can’t shift ground in the first 100 metres, that’s the rule.”