While Vincent Ho Chak-yiu is determined to stave off a late charge from apprentice Jerry Chau Chun-lok and maintain his crown as Hong Kong’s leading local rider, it’s being a player in the overall jockeys’ premiership that interests him most.

The Tony Cruz Award winner as Hong Kong’s leading local in the past two seasons, Ho has seen his lead in the race for this year’s gong mowed down by a rampant Chau, who has ridden 14 winners to Ho’s four since the start of June to cut the margin to just two.

Ho has 58 winners to his name to sit equal fourth in the title race but is 94 behind Joao Moreira, who has already secured his fourth premiership.

“Of course [I want to beat Chau], I’ll be trying to ride as many winners as I can in the next couple of meetings,” Ho said.

Vincent Ho (left) and Tony Cruz celebrate a winner.

“But I never really look at [the Tony Cruz Award], it’s not champion jockey so there’s no pressure. I’m still way, way behind that but it’s still been a really good season for me.”

With 56 winners this term, Chau has already amassed 13 more victories in a campaign than any apprentice before him and Ho – winner of five Group Ones in 2020-21 – has been impressed.

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“He’s done a really good job and as an apprentice to reach 50-something or maybe 60, it’s very impressive,” Ho said.

“Congratulations to Jerry no matter what the result is in the end, it’s always great to see up-and-coming young jockeys and doing well is never easy.”

Ho has a full book of 11 rides at Sha Tin on Sunday as he looks to at least maintain his buffer over Chau heading into the final meeting of the season at Happy Valley next Wednesday.

He partners the David Hall-trained Fast Most Furious in the day’s first Class One, the Sha Tin Mile Trophy, and climbs aboard Stronger in the other – the Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association Trophy.

While Stronger hasn’t quite measured up to the top level, the Douglas Whyte-trained four-year-old has placed three times at Group level this season and enters this contest after running a close second behind the exciting Courier Wonder in the Group Three Sha Tin Vase (1,200m) in late May.

“He was very impressive, hopefully he has kept the form. He has trialled well, he always tries hard in his trials and he needed a good blow, so he’s ready to go,” Ho said.

Ho took Stronger back to just behind midfield from gate 8 last time out but hopes he can sit closer to the pace from barrier three on this occasion.

“If I could be one position [further forward] then that would be great,” he said.

Ho also partners a pair of previously raced three-year-olds making their Hong Kong debuts – Sauvestre in the Class Three Pingwu Spark Handicap (1,200m) and Win Win Fighter in the Class Three Contentment Handicap (1,400m).

Sauvestre joined Frankie Lor Fu-chuen after finishing back in the field behind Ole Kirk in the Group One Golden Rose (1,400m) in Sydney last September, while the Francis Lui Kin-wai-trained Win Win Fighter was a two-time winner in Ireland as a two-year-old.