ONE OF the feel-good factors associated with Hong Kong racing this season has been the continued rise in the jockey ranks of former three-time South African champion Lyle Hewitson.
The 25-year-old first tried his luck in the city back in 2019, but was soon sent packing with his tail between his legs, after riding only three winners.
Undeterred, and following a short and successful foray in Japan, Hewitson was back for more in 2021, only then to suffer a horrific injury shortly after arriving on HK International Day in December.
Since then, however, and mentored by former 13-time champion jockey turned trainer, Douglas Whyte, Hewitson has seen his star rise in spectacular fashion, becoming one of the most sought-after riders on the circuit.
With 40 wins on the scoreboard this season, leaving him fifth in the championship table, Hewitson is one of the go-to riders outside Zac Purton, Vincent Ho and Hugh Bowman, and especially popular with some of the fickle owners and trainers, who have appreciated his clockwork judge of pace.
He will be put to the test again on Sunday, when climbing aboard talented but sometimes quirky CHIU CHOW SPIRIT in division one of the Shing Mun River Channel Handicap (1.15pm) over seven furlongs.
There is no doubt this son of Zoustar has a huge engine, judged on previous form against the likes of Beauty Eternal and Red Lion, but he was certainly disappointing when a beaten odds-on favourite in April.
He remains clearly well-handicapped off his present mark and, from an inside draw, capable of dashing fast and late in the closing stages to record his first win.
Earlier on the card, keep an eye on newcomer Self Improvement in the Kau To Shan Handicap (11.35am) over six furlongs. He has looked useful in trials.
Chiu Chow Spirit 1.15pm Sha Tin