He’s had only two victories since January 8 and has seen his seven-win lead at the top of the trainers’ premiership evaporate, but Ricky Yiu Poon-fai is confident he has plenty of firepower remaining this season.
Without a winner in the past six meetings, Yiu is ready to bounce back after he was usurped atop the table by Francis Lui Kin-wai on Wednesday night.
“I’ve got eight runners and most of them will be very, very close,” he declared, laughing when asked if he’s enjoying his battle with Lui, who has 35 winners to his 34. “We’re in the middle of the season, there is still a long way to go.”
Headlining Yiu’s hand is in-form pair Preciousship and Voyage Warrior, with Yiu declaring the former is on his way to becoming one of Hong Kong’s best milers after his most recent win on January 11.
That success took the five-year-old’s record to three wins from five starts in a much-improved season and Yiu expects big things in the Class Two Choi Wan Handicap (1,600m).
“He’s a nice horse and I think he will go close again, he’s a very gutsy little horse and very honest,” Yiu said of his galloper, who at 1,008 pounds is 56 pounds lighter than anything else in the race. “He’s likes the trip a lot.”
Vincent Ho Chak-yiu retains the ride after being aboard for all three of the horse’s wins and will have the luxury of barrier one.
Another victory could lift the 93-rated Preciousship out of Class Two company but Yiu hasn’t mapped out any grand plans despite his high opinion of the galloper.
“Eventually he will move above a 100 rating and we’ll see where we go from there,” he said.
Preciousship tackles an even, if not outstanding, field on Saturday, with the David Hall-trained Fast Most Furious and Lui’s Cordyceps coming in with the strongest form of the challengers.
Fast Most Furious has won once and placed three times this term, but regular rider Zac Purton has opted to partner the Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained Insayshable, allowing Alexis Badel to snap up the ride on Hall’s seven-year-old.
Voyage Warrior returns to six furlongs in the day’s other Class Two – the Choi Hung Handicap – and has drawn gate one after jumping from barrier 12 when finishing 10th at his first attempt at 1,200m in November.
Voyage Warrior sat just off the leader when saluting over 1,000m last time out, rather than challenging for the front like he did in his first half a dozen starts.
“The good draw this time will help him a lot,” Yiu said. “He’s more mature now. I have a bit more expectation this time after he won his last start and we saw him relax during the race, so we want to try to do the same thing – put him somewhere close but sit back a little bit.”
Among Yiu’s other runners are first-starter Fighter Boy – who has performed well at the trials – King’s Trooper, Lone Eagle and the consistent Shining Gem.