Vincent Ho boosted hopes of LONGINES International Jockeys` Championship (IJC) participation next month with a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (15 November) as Pierre Ng maintained a blistering start to the season with a brace.
With three positions left in the star-studded 12-rider LONGINES IJC line-up at Happy Valley on 6 December, Ho is strongly placed to clinch the berth reserved for the leading home-grown rider at the completion of next Wednesday`s (22 November) meeting at Happy Valley.
While apprentice Angus Chung (17 wins) is ineligible, Ho (10) leads Matthew Chadwick (7) – who missed tonight`s meeting through suspension – with two meetings left to decide which riders will join Ryan Moore, Zac Purton, James McDonald, Tom Marquand, Hollie Doyle, Rachel King, Yuga Kawada, Mickael Barzalona and Bauyrzhan Murzabayev.
With Hugh Bowman (21 wins) recovering from injury, two more spots will be allocated to the highest-ranked riders in the Hong Kong championship behind Purton (28), who slotted a double at Happy Valley this evening.
Resuming for the first time since 15 October, Ho announced his comeback in style with a comfortable win on Caspar Fownes-trained Valhalla in the Class 5 Kokura Handicap (1200m).
“I`m of course happy to get a winner, it (Valhalla) drew (barrier) one and that definitely helped. Thanks to Mr Fownes, who`s putting me on everything coming back and they`re all good chances – all credit to the team and the stables – and the horse did the job tonight.
“The IJC is always the goal. I`ll do my best to get in there and have a good week on international week.”
Ho doubled his haul with Jamie Richards-trained Happy Day in the Class 4 Japan Racing Association Trophy Handicap (1200m).
“Another good draw (barrier two), he`s a good horse. Jamie agreed to go to 1200 metres with this horse and he was super kind by waiting to run this horse when I came back,” Ho said. “I need to really say thank you to Jamie and I`m glad to repay him and the owners with a winner.”
Following on from a Sha Tin quartet last Saturday (11 November), Ng continued a rampant opening to the campaign with a double as the second-season trainer extended his lead atop the Hong Kong trainers` championship to have 22 wins to lead Francis Lui (15) and Danny Shum (15).
Ng struck first with Humble Star`s victory under Purton in the Class 3 Nakayama Handicap (1000m) before Karis Teetan sealed a brace for the young handler aboard Dragon Star in the Class 4 Niigata Handicap (1650m).
“Today, he (Humble Star) got a good pace and he finished off well,” Ng said. “We`ll keep running at this distance until we find there`s another distance for him.
“He`s (Dragon Star) been doing well, knocking on the door four times. No matter what you do with him - if you go fast or if you go slow - he does the same. I think the key to him is to get him rolling earlier and make him hard to chase. Tonight, he didn`t stop and won by a short margin.”
Chill Chibi continued a promising advance towards the 2024 Four-Year-Old Classic Series and, potentially, the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) with an impressive win in the Class 3 Hanshin Handicap (1650m) for Shum and Jerry Chau.
“He enjoyed the fast pace and hit the line very strong,” Shum said after the Wrote gelding posted his third successive win. “If he can handle Sha Tin like Happy Valley, I think he`s got a chance to get into the Derby – if you get into the Derby, anything can happen.”
Purton combined with Cody Mo to snare the third section of the Class 4 Kyoto Handicap (1200m) on Talents Supremo before Dylan Mo rode his first winner of the campaign when Benno Yung`s Multidarling land the first section of the Class 4 Kyoto Handicap (1200m).
Telecom Fighters provided Me Tsui with his fifth win of the term with success in the Class 2 Tokyo Handicap (1650m) under Chung before Lyle Hewitson chimed in atop Lui-trained Wonder Kit in the Class 3 Chukyo Handicap (1200m).
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday (19 November) with Bank of China (Hong Kong) Race Day with the running of the G2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m), G2 BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile (1600m) and the G2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m).