Classy galloper Not Usual Talent has been in an on-again, off-again relationship with trainer Benno Yung Tin-pang but jockey Chad Schofield believes he can turn back the clock at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
While the form guide will show all of the galloper’s 18 starts in Hong Kong have come under the care of Yung, he did have a short-lived foray into Tony Millard’s stable last season.
Owners moved Not Usual Talent to Millard on February 24 and he had two impressive trials before switching back to Yung on April 29 after being listed as a bleeder.
It was then Yung made the decision to send Not Usual Talent to the Jockey Club’s Conghua training facility in mainland China to recover.
While the horse never raced for Millard, it proved to be a beneficial move for Schofield, who was able to ride him in work for the South African and has kept the ride ever since.
“I rode him a bit when he was at Tony Millard’s last season and he was working really well,” Schofield said. “Unfortunately he had a bit of blood after one of his trials.
“I did his trials and galloped him a few times, it was the first time I had anything to do with the horse but I have liked him since then.”
After tasting success in three of his 10 starts in his first Hong Kong season, the son of Zacinto went winless last term.
Not Usual Talent returned in impressive fashion earlier this month, storming home to run second to the smart Mighty Giant over an unsuitable 1,400m trip, and he will get his opportunity when he steps up to 1,650m in the Class Two High West Handicap.
“Benno put me on him first-up and had he drawn a gate, I dare say he would have won,” Schofield said. “It was a massive run and he is going to the Valley, where he has won before.”
With an extended 105-80 ratings band, Not Usual Talent gets extra weight relief as well with Preciousship’s rating of 104 commanding the top weight in the contest.
Jumping from gate six with key rivals such as Enjoying, Solar Wai Wai, Bear Again and Alpha Hedge all drawing outside him, Schofield believes his charge is well placed to break his run of outs.
“The ratings band is a 105 to 80 which sees his weight drop, it gives him that little bit of relief so I think he is a horse that can win that race,” he said.
The ride marks one of a host of strong chances on the night for Schofield, who has enjoyed one of his better starts to a season with seven winners to his name following a double at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Schofield will ride last-start winner Farm Bumper along with Flash Famous, Carry The Diamond and Ka Ying Brilliance.
With a suspension hovering over his head, the 26-year-old is keen to keep his name up in lights before an enforced break.
“I’ll miss the 21st and the 24th [of October],” he said. “But I have seven winners now, it is a decent enough start – doubles always make things better, don’t they.”