Jerry Chau Chun-lok dominated the early encounters at Sha Tin on Sunday with a front-running double aboard fast-improving sprinter Flying Season and prolific winner My Sugar.
Chau had been forced to sit out the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday after being part of the same pod as fellow jockey Victor Wong Chun, who tested positive for Covid-19.
“I’m very happy to be back and to get two winners,” Chau said. “I had eight horses to ride at that meeting and I thought some of them had a good chance. One of them went close – E Legend – and I hope I can get back on him.”
Chau returned with a bang when Flying Season took out the opening Class Three Kwai Fong Handicap (1,000m) in the style of a youngster with a hugely promising future.
The Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained Flying Season was all the rage ahead of the opening race on the card and punters who backed him into $1.6 were counting their cash a long way from home.
Breaking well from the gate, the three-year-old pulled his way to the front of the seven-runner field early and was never troubled as he easily beat home second favourite Forte to give Chau one of the easiest winners he’ll ride this season.
“Flying Season keeps on improving and he’s doing everything well now,” said Chau, who has ridden the colt in all three starts for two wins and a second. “In the beginning he jumped slow and did things wrong, but now he’s changed a lot.”
Man now has a couple of reasons to dream big as Flying Season joins fellow three-year-old Lucky Sweynesse, who completed a Happy Valley hat-trick in midweek, as horses who look more than capable of continuing their rise up the ranks.
Chau hits the ground running at Happy Valley after three-meeting absence
Aged just 21, Chau is one of the youngest jockeys in Hong Kong – with only Luke Ferraris his junior among the current riding ranks – and he has found things a little tougher since completing his apprenticeship in quick time in October.
“It’s difficult now because the allowance is less, so I need to talk more to trainers to get more opportunities, more rides so I can improve myself,” Chau said.
Flying Season may have been an armchair ride for Chau but he was forced to display all of his ability in the saddle to help My Sugar bounce back to form in the Class Two Cheung Shan Handicap (1,600m).
Sent off second favourite, My Sugar was taken straight to the head of the field by Chau from a good draw in stall one and was given an easy time of things until turning into the straight.
With his mount coming under pressure and headed by eventual runner-up C P Brave on the run for home, Chau remained calm and showed strength in the saddle as My Sugar fought back to win a bunched finish by a neck, with only a length and a quarter separating the first five home.
“My Sugar jumped fast today and he relaxed well and was strong at the finish,” Chau said.
My Sugar had started the season in fine style with a couple of victories in Class Three company but had failed to salute in his first two starts in Class Two and trainer Jimmy Ting Koon-ho was delighted to see the galloper return to the winner’s enclosure.
“His health was not too good last time but this time his health is better,” Ting said. “Today, he was lucky. Some horses were too far back and the favourite was scratched.”