Vincent Ho Chak-yiu became only the second home-grown jockey to reach 500 Hong Kong wins at Sha Tin on Sunday, joining the legendary Tony Cruz after tasting success on the Derby undercard.
After taking out the Class Four Fay Fay Handicap (1,400m) aboard Lucky Gold, Ho remembered the early days of a career that saw him ride his first Hong Kong winner aboard Decent Fellow in May 2010 on his way to a Sha Tin treble.
“It’s feel like ages when you watch the videos of when I got my first winner,” Ho said. “I was lucky to get into the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s apprentice school when I was a little bit heavy or a little bit taller than the limit.
“I’m really grateful to the club for putting so much effort into local boys, and we are doing our best to help the next generation as well because we know how it feels from back then and we want to help them believe.
“I’ve always loved riding and loved horses and when I first signed with Amy Chan [Lim-chee], the goal was to produce world-class jockeys, so that was my dream as well.”
It was fitting Ho’s 500th win came aboard the Francis Lui Kin-wai-trained Lucky Gold, with the prolific pair combining for their 119th success. A ridiculous 24 of those victories have come with the great Golden Sixty, including a Classic Series clean sweep and eight Group One victories.
“I’m very happy for him, congratulations. He’s so honest, he always tries his best and even at trackwork and everything, we communicate well. He’s a very good jockey,” Lui said.
Ho’s first elite-level victory came for the man he did his apprenticeship under, with the 32-year-old taking out the 2020 Champions Mile aboard Caspar Fownes’ Southern Legend.
That was one of 121 victories Ho has shared with Fownes, while he has also tasted Group One success aboard Japanese raider Loves Only You and the Douglas Whyte-trained Stronger, but it is, of course, Golden Sixty that holds the biggest piece of Ho’s heart.
“He’s definitely got me a lot of recognition in Hong Kong and around the world, and he’s definitely very special to me,” Ho said.
Yeung walks away from scary fall
Keith Yeung Ming-lun left Sha Tin feeling sore and sorry for himself, but the bubbly jockey was counting his lucky stars after miraculously escaping serious injury in a frightening fall during the Class Four Ping Hai Star Handicap (1,200m).
After Royal Agility completely lost his way entering the straight and crashed through the running rail, Yeung landed flat on his back where the Sha Tin turf meets a drain and the service road between the main track and the all-weather surface.
He ended up prone on the concrete as Royal Agility smashed through another fence before collapsing on the dirt track.
Amazingly, the 34-year-old walked away with nothing more than some potential muscle damage around his left shoulder and was able to watch the remainder of the card from home.
“There’s not much you can do in a situation like that. I think I was very lucky indeed,” said Yeung, who was replaced by Matthew Poon Ming-fai aboard Packing Monkeyking – his only remaining ride for the afternoon. “I’ll try to ride on Wednesday.”
Royal Agility was found to have bled and was taken to the equine hospital for further observation.
Winner by name, Winner by nature
Victor The Winner hurries to the front in his races, but Danny Shum Chap-shing does not intend to rush the progressive sprinter back to the track any time soon following his latest all-the-way victory in fast time over Sha Tin’s 1,200m course.
Carrying the lightest weight of his six-start career – 120 pounds – Victor The Winner got the better of Winning Dreamer for the early lead before he moved through the gears in the middle and late stages, stopping the clock at 1:08.20, six-tenths of a second inside the Class Two 1,200m standard time.
Victor The Winner’s two-and-a-half-length triumph in the Rapper Dragon Handicap was his fourth success, and Zac Purton became the fourth jockey to salute aboard him, mirroring the achievements of Hugh Bowman, James McDonald and Poon.
The next Class Two sprint over 1,200m at Sha Tin is on April 15, but do not expect to see Victor The Winner contest it now Shum thinks he has worked out how to get the best out of the young speedster.
“He can’t be run too soon. That’s the thing. He needs two months – seven or eight weeks at least. I don’t think I’ll run him in April. There’s no need to rush him,” said Shum, who added he will invite Purton to stick with Victor The Winner.
Chung chugs along
The first stage of Angus Chung Yik-lai’s apprenticeship is in the bag and life will get a touch harder for the 26-year-old after his 20th Hong Kong victory.
Chung’s victory aboard the Dennis Yip Chor-hong-trained Top Top Tea in the Class Four Furore Handicap (1,400m) means his claim will drop from 10 pounds to seven for his next 25 successes.
Chung has held his own in his first Hong Kong season and sits ninth in the premiership, while Top Top Tea improved his record to two wins from five starts and will now find himself among Class Three company.