Chad Schofield believes he is riding as well as he ever has in Hong Kong as he continued his golden run with a classy treble at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The 26-year-old has now saluted at each of the past eight meetings and has 17 victories since the start of March – more than anyone outside Zac Purton and Joao Moreira – with his 34 winners this season only four off his best Hong Kong return.
“I do feel like I’m probably riding as well as I ever have,” Schofield said. “It’s just flowing along nicely but it’s a combination of getting some better quality rides and obviously my confidence is high on the back of the winners.
“I’ve had a winner here and there but to get three is really nice.”
A champion apprentice in Melbourne and Sydney, Schofield’s talent has never been in question and he has been remarkably consistent in his five Hong Kong seasons, never dipping below 31 winners.
But talk has bubbled in more recent times of just when Schofield will take the next step and become a genuine top-three premiership contender, a progression the jockey is confident is within reach.
“In my first three seasons I was taking only small steps but I really want to go to the next level in Hong Kong and riding trebles helps,” said Schofield, who is set to sail past his personal best win tally despite missing 12 meetings through suspension, including most of January.
“To get a month suspension is a fair chunk of the season and to still probably be able to beat my best tally is a good sign and again next season if I can beat whatever I get this season, I can just keep raising the bar.
“Obviously [Purton and Moreira] are well clear of the third jockey but I’m hoping to just keep climbing the ladder.”
Schofield arrived at Sha Tin on Sunday confident he could deliver and was on the board in the first race of the afternoon, booting home Wonder Express in the Class Five Waterloo Handicap (1,400m).
He followed up with a running double in the middle of the card, saluting aboard Super Power Man in the Class Four Kent Handicap (1,200m) on the all-weather track before taking the Class Four Norfolk Handicap (1,400m) with Team Power.
Schofield sat just off the leaders aboard Team Power and, after some pushing and shoving with Zac Purton aboard Telecom Rocket at the top of the straight, found an opening and powered home.
“Team Power jumped out of the ground the last 100m last start and ran second, so I asked [trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai] to put him up to 1,400m and he was really good today,” Schofield said.
“Off a slow speed he showed a nice turn of foot when the gap came and he’s a young horse who I think can kick on with it.”
Sent out as the $2.70 favourite despite carrying top weight, the Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained Super Power Man made it consecutive wins over 1,200m on the dirt and Schofield is confident the three-year-old can continue performing up in grade.
“He is a very young and immature horse so in his third race start with top weight, he was running along out in front and he did get tired but with the top weight I thought he was entitled to,” Schofield said.
“He’s going to keep going through the grades I think, he’s going to keep learning and progressing – he’s still a little bit nervous and does a few things wrong but he’s got a motor, which is the main thing.”
And while Schofield maintained he is just determined to ride as many winners as possible in 2019-20, he admitted 50 would have a nice ring to it: “the final three months of the season would have to be pretty good but it would be a nice goal to reach.”