Derek Leung Ka-chun is one of only five current jockeys with a Classic Cup (1,800m) on his mantle after snaring the race aboard Mission Tycoon in 2019 and he is pinning his hopes on another Frankie Lor Fu-chuen runner in this year’s contest.
Leung will partner the improving Money Catcher in the second leg of the four-year-old series after finishing 11th aboard the galloper over 1,400m in his Hong Kong debut and a two-length fifth over 1,800m last time out.
“He’s a handy horse. He’s quite one-paced but he’s a stayer and he should keep improving,” Leung said of Money Catcher, who finished eighth behind Rocket Spade in last year’s Group One New Zealand Derby (2,400m).
Money Catcher was first reserve for last month’s Classic Mile but sits 11th in the order of entry for the Classic Cup on February 27.
Matthew Poon grabs a double as Charity Go nabs Looking Great in the finale! ✌️ #YearOfTheTiger #HKracing pic.twitter.com/m7lKysJ4f3— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 3, 2022
After getting squeezed for a run and losing his balance last start, Money Catcher hit the line solidly and Leung expects improvement from that run.
The gelding finished third under Leung in a trial at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning that featured fellow Classic Cup entrants California Spangle, Turin Redsun, Rocket Spade, The Irishman and Senor Toba.
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“He’s going well. He’s fitter now, last time when that horse slightly shifted in he was still a bit green and it just scared him. But today everything was fine and smooth, it was good,” Leung said.
Leung has a couple of Group One rides to look forward to before the Classic Cup, partnering Mighty Giant in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1,400m) and Panfield in the Gold Cup (2,000m) this weekend.
🏆Champions & Chater Cup (G1)— 𝙒𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙𝙍𝙖𝙘𝙞𝙣𝙜 (@WorldRacing1) May 23, 2021
2400m , 12.000.000 HKD, for 4yo+
(4C Lookin At Lucky - Esterina, by Orpen)
J : K. Teetan
T :A. T. Millard
O : Yue Yun Hing
B : Agricola Taomita Ltd
Leung rides the Tony Millard-trained Panfield for the first time and hopes he can return to something close to the form that saw him take out the Champions & Chater Cup last season.
“He’s a good horse, he’s still a colt but he’s nice and quiet. I rode him this morning on the small track and it seems like everything is fine. They put the blinkers on in the trial [last week] and he seemed happy so hopefully he can run well this time,” Leung said.
Before turning his attention to the big races to come, Leung has seven rides at Happy Valley on Wednesday night and partners another galloper with a Classic Cup entry in the Class Three Fountain Palm Handicap (2,200m).
Nordic Sky came to Hong Kong after winning the Group One Brazilian Derby (2,400m) but hasn’t won from seven starts here and with a rating of just 66, would need to find another level to fire himself into Classic Series calculations.
“He’s fit and well and he should be better this start. There’s just not much in the Hong Kong programme for him,” Leung said of the Millard-trained galloper.
Leung pinpointed the Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained Hero Star in the second section of the Class Four Larch Handicap (1,200m) as his best chance of a winner at the midweek meeting.
“Hero Star has got a good draw [in gate three], he’s honest and he always goes forward. If tomorrow’s race is suitable for him he should run well,” Leung said.