With the security of a new contract to start next season, Harry Bentley is hoping to parlay that vote of confidence into more winners, starting at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The English jockey was given a six-month licence by the Jockey Club on Monday, a nice little reward after making the move to Hong Kong in March.
Bentley, who already has two victories to his name, had to spend three weeks in quarantine before being cleared to ride in April so the extension means the time already invested is not in vain.
He can continue to build relationships and learn the nuances of the unique Hong Kong racing scene, safe in the knowledge he will be starting on a level playing field when the new season kicks off on September 5.
“It was really good to be told that news, it’s a good boost and it’s a great opportunity,” Bentley said.
“Obviously these few months were always going to be tough for me coming in at such a strange time of the season – I was never expecting to fly off the bat or anything like that – but now I’ve got some roots down and got some connections, hopefully that will make the beginning of next season a bit easier.
“I’d like to be riding more winners, but wouldn’t everybody? I’m well aware that you need to be winning here to keep momentum so I’d like a few more but I’m enjoying the whole experience.”
The 29-year-old, who was champion jockey in Qatar six years in a row, has had six placings since his most recent victory and is itching to get that winning feeling back.
His best chance on Sunday comes aboard Czarson, who lines up in the Class Two Cheung Sha Handicap (1,200m) on the dirt.
The Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained four-year-old looked good winning a barrier trial last week and returns to the course and distance of his last win in November.
Czarson has been cursed by wide barriers in recent outings – 14, 10 and 14 in his past three runs – but has drawn perfectly in barrier three for this assignment.
“I think he’s got a really good chance. I rode him in his last start over 1,000m and just looking at his form, 1,200m on the all-weather track at Sha Tin is really favourable for him,” Bentley said.
“The fact he’s carrying only 116 pounds is another tick in the box so I think a few things stack up in his favour.
“Being in barrier three you might as well make use of him from there, so I think we’ll probably be right up near the pace, whether that’s just behind the leaders or what have you, but I’ll see what the trainer wants me to do.”
Bentley has four other rides on the card – Kabi Smart, Everyone’s Victory, Super Win Dragon and Casimiro.