Vincent Ho Chak-yiu and Yoshito Yahagi teamed up to take out April’s QE II Cup with Loves Only You and Hong Kong’s leading local jockey is feeding off the Japanese master trainer’s confidence ahead of the Longines Hong Kong International Races.
Yahagi has booked Ho to ride Stay Foolish in the Group One Hong Kong Vase (2,400m) and while the jockey admits the six-year-old doesn’t have the greatest form – he hasn’t won since 2018 – he knows he’s been engaged by the right man.
“Mr Yahagi is exceptional as a trainer and at travelling horses overseas and he appears confident – he thinks Stay Foolish should be better than what his results suggest and that he should suit Hong Kong and suit travelling,” said Ho.
Stay Foolish must overcome compatriot and 2019 Vase winner Glory Vase, who will be ridden by Joao Moreira, as well as Britain’s Pyledriver.
“Over 2,400m [Yahagi] thinks Stay Foolish should be a good chance to beat Joao’s horse,” Ho said.
Ho confirmed he will also partner Douglas Whyte’s Stronger in the Sprint and the Tony Cruz-trained Berlin Tango in the Cup – where he will come up against the might of Loves Only You – to go with his banner ride aboard Golden Sixty in the Mile.
On top of a full book of feature rides on international day, Ho will compete in the International Jockeys’ Championship (IJC) for the fifth time on December 8 and he has seven rides at the city circuit this Wednesday night to get his eye in.
Ho jumps aboard the consistent Rock Ya Heart in the Class Three Tern Handicap (1,200m) and will be a chasing a second win of the season aboard Francis Lui Kin-wai’s four-year-old.
“He’s still young and he stills needs to learn to relax a bit but he’s in good form,” Ho said of the son of I Am Invincible, who jumps from gate four in his first start at Happy Valley.
Ho partners Fast Pace for Caspar Fownes in the Class Three Sand Martin Handicap (1,800m), where he has drawn barrier 12, and the trainer is realistic in his expectations of the six-year-old after he rung up his second win of the season earlier this month.
“Fast Pace is in good form, he’s obviously up in class now and he’s shown us last season that he’s competitive in Class Three and he could probably snag a place. He’s done his job for the season with a couple of wins and whatever we get from him now is a bonus,” Fownes said.
Fownes’ Sky Field was the star attraction at Tuesday morning’s Sha Tin trials but the decision to experiment with the blinkers 12 days out from the Hong Kong Sprint didn’t quite go to plan as the five-year-old pulled his way to the front of the field before finishing third.
“It backfired a bit, I put the cups on him to hope he would just come out and snag him and switch off, but he wanted to do his own thing,” Fownes said. “It doesn’t matter – he’s a very fit horse, he’s a very consistent horse and I’m sure he’ll give us a big run.”