A few months can make a big difference to the life of a jockey in Hong Kong.
With just six victories in the first three months of the season, Ruan Maia was seriously considering his future in the city but the trickle of winners has now started to turn into a steady flow.
The success of Cordyceps One at Happy Valley on Tuesday night was the Brazilian’s 27th strike of the season and it’s fair to say he is pleased to reach that total after his slow start.
“I’m very surprised as at the start I didn’t get very many opportunities but after a few months, I started to get more winners and some more support,” Maia said.
“I didn’t expect to get 27 winners this season so I’m very happy and already looking forward to next season.”
Maia played a pivotal role in the early success of Navas Two, steering him to a hat-trick of wins, and feels that Richard Gibson’s horse has proved to be his best partner this season.
“Navas Two has probably been the best horse I have sat on this season. I won three in a row on him and he’s up in Class Two now,” Maia said.
The 34-year-old may be forced to change his mind on that after the meeting at Sha Tin on Friday as he again gets the chance to ride Ace One in the Class Three Better Future Handicap (1,200m).
Maia has been successful on him in his past two starts from stall one but faces a tougher task this time around after being handed a difficult draw in gate 10.
“I think he’s keeping his form well,” Maia said. “I believe the draw is not too bad because he is a very easy horse to ride, as he can be ridden a bit more back and hit the line very strongly.
“After the first win, he just upped the form again, so he is improving all the time and that’s great.”
Maia has partnered Kowloon East Star in nine races this season for one win, making all the running at Sha Tin in January.
Jimmy Ting Koon-ho’s runner has been a shade disappointing since, including when beating just one home under Matthew Chadwick last time, but a better run could be on the cards in the Class Four Continuous Development Handicap (1,000m).
“This horse has had a little break and in the mornings, I’ve felt that he has improved,” Maia said. “I think he’s got a good chance because the race is not so strong.”
Maia appears to have another decent chance on the Sha Tin card in G One Excellent.
Dennis Yip Chor-hong’s four-year-old produced a career-best effort when staying on strongly to finish fourth last time and the rider is looking forward to getting on him for the Class Five Racing Goes On Handicap (1,200m).
“He has a good draw over 1,200m and the track should be better for him this time – it was very wet on his last start,” Maia said. “I believe he has a good chance.”
Maia has six rides on Friday’s card with his mounts completed by Reciprocation, Victory More and One For All.