Vincent Ho Chak-yiu is facing a huge battle to retain the Tony Cruz Award for leading local jockey in Hong Kong.
Ho has won the prestigious honour for the past three seasons but he is trailing Matthew Chadwick’s 44 winners by two with just 11 meetings of the campaign to go, while Derek Leung Ka-chun is also in the mix just four victories behind Ho.
Ho’s output this campaign has been below the lofty standards he has set himself in recent seasons but he’ll be hoping his recent run of victories can continue at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
Ho has picked up wins at three of the past four meetings and has seven rides at the Valley as he attempts to close the gap on Chadwick.
The man who the local jockey award is named after supplies Ho with four of his mounts but the Cruz-Ho combination could be up against it, with their runners appearing to be struggling for form.
The duo’s best chance could come in the bottom grade as Circuit Elite drops into Class Five company for the first time in the Lavender Handicap (1,650m).
The four-year-old made good late ground on his latest start and with Ho replacing Dylan Mo Hin-tung in the saddle, a shot at the winner’s enclosure is possible.
Ho also rides You’remyeverything for the first time in the first section of the Class Three Calla Lily Handicap (1,200m).
The five-year-old looked to have a bright future when winning by a length on his debut but he has found things tougher in his four subsequent starts despite going off at single-figure prices in all those runs.
He could again find things tough as he takes on Valiant Elegance, who is chasing a fourth straight win, and the in-form Drops Of God.
Away from the Cruz-trained runners, Ho again teams up with veteran Hardly Swears, who has showed signs that he has retained his ability since returning to action in April.
A good second on his comeback was followed by a fast-finishing fifth last time and he could be primed for a big run from a good draw in stall two in the first section of the Class Four Dandelion Handicap (1,200m).
On the face of it Ho may need some luck to add to his seasonal tally and it’s possible Chadwick could extend his lead with a full book of nine rides at his disposal.
The jockey has picked up the mount on Cruz’s best chance on the card – Street Scream in the second section of the Calla Lily Handicap.
A winner of his penultimate start, he finished a good third in his first attempt in Class Three company since June 2020 last start but has been handed a tough draw in stall 10.
In a move that could prove pivotal to the ultimate destination of the Tony Cruz Award, Chadwick has replaced Ho aboard last-start winner Tianchi Monster in the Class Two Bellflower Handicap (1,800m).
The seven-year-old has never won at this level but has placed six times and should again be competitive.
It’s Leung, however, who might have the best ride of the trio in the shape of Money Catcher, who takes on Tianchi Monster.
He finished third in two legs of the four-year-old series and Leung jumps back aboard after Zac Purton guided him to a disappointing fifth at Sha Tin last start.