Matthew Chadwick chases his second Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m) on Sunday but is realistic about the chances of Packing Waltham, knowing the progressive stayer will be even better next season.
Chadwick has a good record in the Group One, guiding California Memory to victory in 2013 while coming second last year aboard Chefano, but he believes Tony Cruz’s four-year-old will need to take a big step forward if he’s going to upset stablemate Exultant on Sunday.
Packing Waltham was unlucky last start when fourth in the Group Three Queen Mother Memorial Cup, pocketed for much of the straight, but the jockey puts that down to his inexperience.
“There was a gap there at the top of the straight but he didn’t attack it. It was enough for him to get through and an experienced horse in the right frame of mind would’ve gone straight through it,” Chadwick said of Packing Waltham, who won three of his four races in France pre-import.
“He just might need a bit more galloping room at this stage but he’s got the ability. He’ll go OK if he runs like he did the other day, I was a bit unfortunate. He’s still progressing as a type.
“He’s still going to be a better horse next season I think, it’s all just come around a bit fast for him.
“It seems like the further he goes the better he gets, so I’m not worried about [the 2,400m trip].”
But before worrying about Sunday, Chadwick has a good book of seven rides at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, including the Douglas Whyte-trained Simply Fluke who steps out in the Class Three Kam Tin River Handicap (1,200m).
The six-year-old was narrowly edged out by High Rise Soldier last time out and is likely to get back again despite drawing well in barrier six.
“I went past Vincent [Ho Chak-yiu] quite fast and I think he half got there and thought his job was done. Hopefully he hits the line a bit more aggressively and he stays in front if he gets there,” Chadwick said.
“He’s got to be ridden a bit quiet anyway so he can finish off the race. He’s a one-trick pony in that respect. So we’re just going to have to ride a race to suit him and try to find the right gaps.
“He showed that last time so if he can reproduce that effort, he should go close again.”
Fast Pace, Ourgoldenrules and Joy N Fun Legend also look to have chances on the nine-race card.
Chadwick has 26 winners and 54 placings from 391 rides this campaign, including notching the 400th Hong Kong victory of his career last month, but admits it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.
Matthew Chadwick hits 400 winners 1,765 days after his 300th: ‘I’ve been punching at the bag for a long time’
“I felt I’ve been a bit of a punching bag recently. I started off the season with quite a few injuries and I’ve just been hitting a lot of road blocks so it’s just been about keeping a [positive] mentality,” he said.
“It’s typical Hong Kong. If you get the right rides, you can produce. Touch wood, I’m injury free at the moment, I just need to get some better rides.”