He’s won some of Australia’s biggest races but remarkably Blake Shinn is yet to ride in a Group One feature at the Hong Kong International Races, something that will change on December 12.
Shinn confirmed he has locked in the ride aboard Sky Field in the Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) and Russian Emperor in the Hong Kong Vase (2,400m) as he chases his first Group One victory in the city.
“I’ve been grafting away here for a couple of years, I’ve been trying to get established and now to be competing on the biggest day in Hong Kong is exciting,” said Shinn, who is into his third season in Hong Kong. “I’m just delighted to get the opportunity, it’s very rewarding.”
Shinn has twice finished third at the elite level in Hong Kong, first aboard Thanks Forever in last year’s Chairman’s Sprint Prize and then in the same race aboard Sky Field this year. He also famously finished second in the 2020 Hong Kong Derby with Playa Del Puente, nailed on the line by Golden Sixty at $290.
Shinn partnered the Caspar Fownes-trained Sky Field into third in the weekend’s Jockey Club Sprint and knows he’ll be a key player come international day, while he hopes Douglas Whyte’s Russian Emperor can hold his own after running fifth in a lacklustre Jockey Club Cup on Sunday.
“They’re two horses that are performing well. Sky Field is an exciting sprinter that has got a great chance and I thought Russian Emperor was very unlucky on the weekend,” he said.
“I was in a pocket the whole way up the straight, I thought he was a really luckless runner and should have won the race with clear running but was a victim of barrier one and just the tempo.
“But the horse gave me a great feeling and I’m just thankful to Douglas and the owner for giving me a chance, it’s wonderful.”
Shinn sits 10th in the jockeys’ premiership 21 meetings into the 2021-22 season with seven winners and has four rides at Happy Valley on Wednesday night after benefiting from the misfortune of Chad Schofield.
Schofield was stood down from his mounts on Tuesday after “presenting with a minor medical condition with an associated fever”, with Shinn stepping in to ride David Hayes-trained pair Ginson and Ai One while Derek Leung Ka-chun (Kwai Chung Elite) and Keith Yeung Ming-lun (Mission Bravo) are picking up the rest of the slack.
Ginson makes his Hong Kong debut in the Class Three Colinton Handicap (1,000m) after one win from seven starts during an Australian career that saw him finish eighth in the Group One Blue Diamond Stakes (1,200m) as a two-year-old.
The four-year-old has trialled three times in Hong Kong, finishing second behind Golden Sixty in the second of them and winning the most recent.
“He’s trialled pretty well and I reckon he can run a race, he’s drawn the widest barrier but it’s only a nine-horse field and he looks a talented horse,” Shinn said.
Shinn’s existing rides were Breeze Of Spring, also for Fownes, and Me Tsui Yu-sak’s Mister Arm.
“For Breeze Of Spring going back to 1,200m could be suitable and Mister Arm could be an improver,” Shinn said.