He is coming off a career-best season, and Derek Leung Ka-chun hopes one of his biggest supporters can help him kick-start his 2022-23 campaign.
Leung rode more winners for Ricky Yiu Poon-fai than any other trainer last term, with 15 of his 48 victories coming for the 2019-20 champion handler, and they team up with Nimble Nimbus in Wednesday night’s Class Three Hong Kong Country Club Challenge Cup (1,650m) at Happy Valley.
Leung partnered Nimble Nimbus to a head second in June and believes the five-year-old can go one better than that result from gate two should his fitness hold up at the midweek meeting.
“He’s been working well in the mornings. He’s only had one trial, so his fitness can probably improve, but I think he’ll run well,” he said.
“We have a good draw, so I won’t have to use him too much early, and we can save some energy for the final 500m.”
Yiu has started the season strongly and sits only one off joint premiership leaders Tony Cruz and David Hayes with six winners.
“He’s one of the big trainers, so it’s always good to get a chance to ride for him, and hopefully, I can start winning for him again,” Leung said.
Leung has eight rides at the Valley as he looks to add to his two winners so far this campaign.
While he admits he would like to have had a few more successes on the board at this stage of the season, he did only have three victories at this point of last term before surging to the best haul of his career.
“I’d like to have two or three more winners in the first month, but I’ll keep working hard, and hopefully things pick up,” Leung said.
“I’m happy with my book in general, and I’m looking forward to riding Jade Phoenix for Frankie [Lor Fu-chuen]. Last time, he was a bit unlucky. He missed the start. This time, with a bit of luck, he can lead the race. I’m sure he’ll do well.”
Jade Phoenix carries the top weight of 135 pounds in the Class Four Nam Fung Handicap (1,650m), while Our Class Act will lump a 127-pound impost in the Class Four Wong Chuk Hang Handicap (1,200m) after receiving an eight-point ratings hike from the handicapper for his last-start win.
Our Class Act at any old price! 🤯🤯— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) September 14, 2022
Me Tsui's galloper goes from last-to-first under Derek Leung at Happy Valley who scores his 400th Hong Kong win. #SeasonOpener | #HKracing pic.twitter.com/IpaB1tRCSy
Three weeks ago, Leung took Our Class Act back to last from gate 11 before weaving through traffic in the straight to secure victory as a $43 chance. The jockey is likely to adopt similar tactics from gate eight this time around.
“Everything will need to be suitable for him. Last time, the outside draw was suitable for him because he can over-race if he’s between horses and he doesn’t relax. But if I can relax him like last time, he could do well,” Leung said.
Rounding out the 34-year-old’s Happy Valley hand are Heroic Master, Dashing Genius, Best For You, Foxhunter Way and Goodluck Goodluck, while Yiu also saddles up Diamond Soars, Mega Bonus and Colonel.