Keefy is Derek Leung Ka-chun’s number one option for next month’s Hong Kong Classic Mile, but the Group One-winning jockey could have a tough choice to make if A Pal continues his rapid rise up the ranks.

Jockey Club handicappers rate A Pal 24 points lower than Keefy following the respective last-start wins of the Frankie Lor Fu-chuen-trained four-year-old gallopers, but the former has made fewer than half of the latter’s number of starts, and therefore, he is probably open to more short-term improvement.

A pre-import Sandown Hillside maiden winner under Jye McNeil before both horse and jockey transferred from Australia to Hong Kong – however, only Oughton changed his name as well as his address – A Pal has contested three Class Three races over 1,400m since joining Lor’s stable from Chris Waller’s yard.

Not many punters thought A Pal would win either of his first two Hong Kong starts, but there was so much to like about his efforts in defeat he was the $2.75 favourite for his third local assignment, which he won by three lengths under Leung.

“We were all very happy last time with the way he won. Everything was perfect for him last time. He had a good barrier, a good position and the track was good for him. I hope this time will be the same,” said Leung, who will ride A Pal from gate one in Sunday’s Class Three Nathan Handicap (1,400m).

“Every race, he’s been learning. First time, he missed the jump. Second time, he rushed to get a position. Last time, he was in a good position because he jumped nicely. The tempo was quite good for him, so he wasn’t too keen – everything was smooth – and he kept rolling. He keeps improving.”

So hits pay dirt after switching Super Win Dragon from turf to all-weather

Meanwhile, Zac Purton has a full book of rides at Sha Tin on Sunday after missing Wednesday’s meeting at Happy Valley, and his mounts include another Australian recruit who is making a name for himself in Hong Kong’s four-year-old division, Superb Boy.

Francis Lui Kin-wai introduced Superb Boy, who was called Jerry when Jean Dubois trained him out of his Goulburn base 200km from Sydney, to Hong Kong fans in a Class Three event over 1,000m at Sha Tin six weeks ago, and he won well under Purton.

“He’s a lovely horse,” said Lui of Superb Boy, whose Class Three Peninsula Golden Jubilee Challenge Cup (1,000m) opponents include three fellow last-start winners – Ka Ying Spirit and a couple of Hong Kong newcomers, Winning Heart and Magic Toronado.

“Honestly, he seems to have a light mouth or something. He also has a big stride. But Zac, he rides him well, and he can handle him.

“I don’t mind gate two. I think he’ll just run his own race. I think he’s getting stronger after his last run, so I don’t mind a few pounds.”