Amid the personal euphoria of his October 9 treble, Harry Bentley couldn’t quite quash the feeling of frustration that came with knowing his best Hong Kong haul would be followed immediately by a two-meeting suspension.
In a place where momentum is everything, Bentley knew he would be sitting on his hands rather than translating his confidence into more winners, and in turn more support.
“Having a suspension is a bit of a killer when it comes to your momentum and I knew once I had that treble – which was brilliant – it was going to be a bit frustrating not being able to capitalise on the back of it because I had a ban straight away,” said Bentley, who has to be content with only three rides at Wednesday night’s all-dirt Sha Tin meeting.
“It’s a bit frustrating to only have three on the night, but that’s just the way it is. I’ll just keep cracking on and not let it get to me, which it’s not.”
Bentley, who has six rides at Happy Valley on Sunday to which to look forward, hopes Group Two winner Mighty Giant takes to the all-weather surface after trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai decided to mix up things in the Class Two Kwok Shui Handicap (1,650m).
All Mighty Giant’s 24 starts have come on the turf – for seven wins – but the seven-year-old did deliver a solid effort in his dirt trial last month.
While Mighty Giant appears past his prime – his rating reached 120 after his Group Two Chairman’s Trophy (1,600m) win in April last year but has slipped to 103 – Bentley hopes his class can carry him.
“It’s obviously the first time he’s running on the all-weather surface, so it’s going to be interesting to see how he goes, but he’s the class horse coming into this,” Bentley said of Mighty Giant, who finished fourth first up this season.
“He trialled OK [on the dirt], and he’s coming into the race with a run under his belt as well. Obviously, last time the 1,400m was just too short for him, but he was doing some good late work. Having had that trial and the run, he should be tip top.
“I haven’t exchanged tactics with Ricky yet. He has gone forward – when he won that Group Two he led all the way – but in his previous races he’s taken a sit.
“It looks like there’s loads of pace in the race anyway. I think Kings Shield and All For St Paul’s will be the two main protagonists going forward. I guess, from our draw in eight, we’ll probably just be taking a sit somewhere off that pace.”
Rounding out Bentley’s hand are Coolceleb and Starry Night, with the English jockey giving the latter a sniff in the Class Four Sha Tsui Handicap (1,200m).
“His form could certainly be a bit stronger, but I put him in there with some sort of chance. He’ll just have to put his best foot forward. He’s still a lightly raced horse, and he’s not been a million miles away,” Bentley said.