BANK on jockey Vincent Ho to bounce back from his heart-wrenching defeat aboard Golden Sixty at Sha Tin last Sunday with at least a couple of winners on the nine-race programme at Happy Valley today.
There having been plenty of grandstand jockeys’ quick to apportion the blame to Ho for being caught napping and too far out of his ground when winner California Spangle skipped clear for glory in the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile over the weekend.
A more measured opinion suggests the sudden injection of pace before the home turn by Beauty Joy surprised everyone, including even Zac Purton aboard California Spangle, and conspired against Golden Sixty, who was momentarily caught flat-footed, and thus didn’t show his customary turbo-charged finish until it was too late.
That’s racing. Racehorses are not machines, and Vincent Ho is still young. He is, however, certainly talented and gifted enough to put that set-back behind him, and get back to what he does best; riding winners.
The local-born pilot, with 24 winners already on the scorecard, is well in front of his normal total leading up to Christmas and, looking at his full-book of rides at the city-track, should certainly improve on that tally by the end of the afternoon’s action.
Ho’s best ride of the day is the Francis Lui-trained GALLANT WAKING, who steps up to the extended mile for the first time in the Sand Martin Handicap (2.15pm).
The combination of Ho and Lui have been a successful partnership to follow since the season started, with 10 wins and 12 places from just 64 runners.
Gallant Waking, a son of dual Australian Group One winner Pride Of Dubai, has been a revelation this season, with two wins and a place from three starts at the Valley – all over six furlongs – and is likely to improve even further when stepping up in distance.
His dam, Cassandara Shadow, a winner of the Group Three Western Australia Oaks, has also produced many smart middle-distance performers, cementing the opinion the mile trip will be ideal.
This looks a competitive handicap on paper, with progressive and well-drawn Good Buddy trying his luck at a mile again, following an easy win over seven furlongs at Sha Tin last month, capable of proving the principle threat.
Ho is back in the saddle on JUMBO LEGEND for former mentor and trainer Caspar Fownes in the Tern Handicap (2.50pm) over six furlongs.
There is little doubt that this Australian-bred galloper should have completed a hat-trick when just denied after a troubled journey over the course and distance last month.
Supporters of Jumbo Legend will always have to hold their breath during races, as this fast-improving handicapper has to be ridden quietly at the back before unleashing his impressive finishing dash.
He is always likely to need some luck during the journey, but if his jockey times his run to perfection, he will be hard to beat off bottom weight.
Gallant Waking 2.15pm Happy Valley
Jumbo Legend 2.50pm Happy Valley