Blake Shinn has declared he wants to stay in Hong Kong for the long-term, with the Australian wanting to prove himself against the world’s best.
By his own admission, Shinn has not set the world on fire since arriving in Hong Kong last season but he is determined to see it out with the 33-year-old saying he is hoping for an extension to his licence, which is due to expire on February 14.
Booting home Supreme Patrol with a top-shelf ride on Sunday will go a long way to securing Shinn’s extension, which would likely see him through to the end of the season.
“It’s a great feeling, it’s always good to get a winner,” Shinn said of the effort on the David Ferraris-trained galloper in the Class Five San Po Kong Handicap (1,200m).
“David Ferraris stuck by me and kept me on his horse and I was able to deliver for him, David Hayes has also been fantastic so I am hoping we can just keep chipping away and build some momentum. “Caspar [Fownes] has been fantastic as well, so you never know when it might swing your way. I need a little bit of luck, I have seen it with other people. It hasn’t turned my way yet.”
With Covid-19 all but stopping international travel, the Jockey Club will struggle to attract any new riders to Hong Kong as all arrivals are being forced into three weeks of hotel quarantine before being allowed into the general population.
Shinn denied local press reports during the week that he is unhappy and wants out of Hong Kong, saying they could not be further from the truth.
“I don’t know where all that came from to be honest,” he said. “I have put in all the work to try to do well here so I don’t see any reason why I’d want to leave at the moment. I am learning every day, you are riding against the best jockeys in the world. You can look at the results but I am looking at the big picture so I am happy to stay.”
Now with seven wins under his belt, Shinn said he would not be making any end-of-season targets should he be granted an extension, but revealed he wants to continue to learn off the likes of Joao Moreira – who he considers one of the best in the world.
“When you’re riding against the likes of Joao, it is not easy,” Shinn said. “Then you’ve got Zac [Purton], and [Christophe] Soumillon comes here, there are just world-class riders here so I think it’s an honour to be here and I am going to do everything I can to try and cement myself. I haven’t got a target, I just get up every day to work harder and get better opportunities, that’s what it is about.”
It marks the start of an important week for Shinn, who will also partner the impressive Harmony N Blessed at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, who boasts a perfect record of two from two.
With the Classic Series looming, Shinn is looking to secure a ride once the dominoes begin to fall after Moreira makes his selection.
He almost pulled off a Derby miracle last year aboard $290 chance Playa Del Puente when he was just edged out by hotshot Golden Sixty in the shadows of the post.
A Sight to behold for punters
It didn’t quite go to plan but favourite backers were able to breathe a sigh of relief as the equal shortest-priced horse of the season, Sight Success, maintained his unbeaten run at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The John Size-trained four-year-old jumped at $1.15 in the Class Three Diamond Hill Handicap (1,200m) – the same odds Hong Kong superstar Golden Sixty started when he won the Group Two Jockey Club Mile in November.
The margin – a length and a half – was the same in both of those races but supporters would have been feeling a lot more comfortable about Golden Sixty in the run than those who were on Sight Success.
Moreira sent the son Magnus forward but he didn’t relish that position and was awkwardly placed behind the early leader Sunset Watch as they turned for home. But once he balanced up, his class came to the fore, letting down strongly to beat Tornado Twist.
“It looked a little bit awkward in the run because he had daylight in front of him and he was joint leader, which was not perfect – it’s not what you want to see – but the horse was good enough to do the job and win the race so you couldn’t ask for anything else,” Size said. “He’s won two out of two so he’ll [have some more ratings points in hand].”
It completed a double for the stable after Leading Fortune (Alexis Badel) captured the Class Four Ngau Tau Kok Handicap (1,600m).
Shum watches on from home
Danny Shum Chap-shing cheered home a winner on Sunday but it was from his couch, with the 60-year-old staying home after feeling unwell.
With Covid-19 restrictions as tight as they have been in Hong Kong, the Jockey Club has gone to great lengths to keep people away from the races who are not 100 per cent.
If the handler was looking for a pick me up, he got it when Lucky Fun overcame a torrid run in transit to land his first win in start three in the Class Four Lam Tin Handicap (1,200m).
The four-year-old had shown he was far from straightforward in his previous two starts, with the gelding unseating Matthew Chadwick in his first start while racing down the straight.
Holidays looming for Badel, Borges
Jockeys Alexis Badel and Vagner Borges will spend time on the sidelines over the next fortnight after copping suspensions on Sunday.
Badel was suspended for his winning ride aboard Copartner Era, where he was charged with careless riding after causing interference at the 175m mark while attempting to get clear. He will miss meetings on January 17 and 20.
Borges was suspended for his ride on $128 shot Pakistan Friend and will miss a Group One day at Sha Tin on January 24 along with Happy Valley on the 27th.