Championship leader Joao Moreira’s pain is set to be Regan Bayliss’ gain with the young Australian jockey picking up the ride on Champion’s Way thanks to suspension.
The Magic Man will miss Saturday’s Sha Tin meeting after being rubbed out by stewards for two race days earlier this month and opportunities have been spread out as a result.
With Moreira usually having a mortgage on the top rides from John Size’s stable, the 11-time champion trainer has turned to the likes of Bayliss, Umberto Rispoli and Chad Schofield.
Bayliss will partner the top-rated four-year-old series contender in the Class One Chevalier Cup (1,600m) as he looks to bounce back from a flat performance a fortnight ago.
“He is a nice pickup ride, obviously with Joao being suspended the opportunity arose and I am looking forward to riding him,” the 22-year-old said.
It is not the first time Size has turned to Bayliss to ride the horse, guiding him to victory in Class Three company last season while Moreira was again suspended.
On that occasion, the victory came just one hour after his first Hong Kong win on the Caspar Fownes-trained Rise High.
“I won on him last season, he was a very promising horse then and he still is now, he has had one first-up run which probably looked a little bit disappointing but the way the track was racing, it wasn’t ideal,” Bayliss said.
“The track was pretty firm and nothing was really making ground.
A young horse and jockey on the fast track in R10 at Sha Tin: John Size's Champion's Way shrugs off an outside draw and useful rivals in handsome style to stay unbeaten and give @Reganbayliss a double. The youngster rides the aptly-named Not Usual Talent in the finale. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/NJX4bxHozm— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) March 10, 2019
“If we can get back on even ground on Saturday, he will be second-up, he will be fitter so I think he will be a nice chance.”
With just 64 rides this season, Bayliss has struggled for opportunities in the fickle Hong Kong environment so he knows the importance of performing when a genuine winning chance comes along.
“It is so tough here to get opportunities, that is what it is all about, the opportunities. If you don’t get them you can’t do anything so it is good to be able to get a nice one on Saturday so hopefully I can capitalise on it,” he said.
“You can only do what you can do, we have a nice barrier so hopefully we end up in the spot and get our chance.”
With two rides for Size on the day, Bayliss paid credit to the master trainer, saying he had been a wealth of knowledge for him during his short time in Hong Kong.
“He doesn’t say too much but every time he does speak you tune in and you listen because he is so knowledgeable and has such wise words, I have learned a lot from him,” he said.
He will also partner up with last-start winner Mr Wealth again as part of his six rides on the day.
Bayliss delivered a superb pace-stalking victory on the troubled five-year-old last month to win as a $19 outsider on the all-weather track.
He again returns to the Sha Tin dirt in the Class Three Chevalier Environmental Engineering Handicap (1,200m).