Embattled jockey Victor Wong Chun is staring down the barrel of a winless season but there is a glimmer of hope in the form of Telecom Fighters at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
With just three meetings remaining in the 2020-21 campaign, Me Tsui Yu-sak’s talented four-year-old represents one of Wong’s last chances to avoid the indignity that comes with that unwanted feat.
The last jockey to go through a season without a win was Alvin Ng Ka-chun in 2018-19, who had just three placings from 92 rides, but he did miss four months with a fractured ankle.
That ended up being Ng’s last season in the saddle and while Wong has a ticket for next season, the Jockey Club licensing committee has put him on notice and he needs to get results.
His record this term is not flash – five seconds and seven thirds from 222 rides.
But without support it is very hard to win and just 11 of his mounts have started at single-figure prices.
After three wins from his past four starts, Telecom Fighters should make it 12 in the Class Three Holly Handicap (1,650m).
It is Wong’s only ride of the night – and he has to wait until the last race for it – but he is a definite winning hope and Tsui did provide the jockey with his most recent success aboard Money Winner on July 15 last year.
Telecom Fighters has been a different horse since the trainer took him to the iconic city circuit five starts ago, relishing his role as a front-runner to march up the ratings.
He led all the way to win by a length last month with superstar jockey Joao Moreira in the saddle and went up six points for that effort.
Wong’s five-pound claim basically cancels out that rise so, on weights, Telecom Fighters should be right in the finish again.
He should be able to find the front relatively comfortably with the only other likely pace angles coming from Everyone’s Delight (Zac Purton) and Star Of Yuen Long (Alfred Chan Ka-hei).
Everyone’s Delight was dominant winning his first start at Happy Valley last month, leading from barrier to box under Alexis Badel, and it will be interesting to see if Purton adopts the same strategy from the inside alley or if he is content taking a sit, like he did when he won on him on debut.
There are two other major dangers in Ka Ying Excellent (Moreira) and Total Power (Jerry Chau Chun-lok).
The Tony Cruz-trained Ka Ying Excellent has to overcome the outside barrier but has back-to-back seconds in his only two starts over this course and distance.
Given his racing pattern, you would suggest the Magic Man will push forward and try to slot in with cover just off the speed.
Total Power, from the David Hall stable, was a winner over the Valley’s extended mile two starts back before a narrow third last time out.
Chau is riding in tremendous form with 11 winners from the past nine meetings – including four from the most recent two – and should give the five-year-old a lovely run from gate three.